Long Tuesday’s Journey Into Night

October 19, 2010

I spent all day today in my windowless cubicle at the office.  When I started driving home, it was wet outside, and the streets were full of puddles.  And then, during my less-than-10 minute drive, the skies opened up and there was a thunderstorm.  There was lighting in the distance.  Rain pelted my windows.  I had to kick my wipers up to high.  Then, less than three minutes later, it was over.  I spent almost 13 hours at the office today, but I loved that this particular little show was saved until I was driving home.

It’s the second day in a row I’ve stayed really late at the office,  and so it’s also the second day in a row that I skipped the gym.  This is what the parking lot at my office looks like when I leave at 9:48pm.  Can you guess which car is mine?

And here’s my gym bag, which has sat untouched since yesterday morning – and I suspect may stay untouched for a few days more:

Any guesses on what I brought for lunch today?   A salad.  (Are you patting yourself on the back if you guessed correctly?)   Since my salads seems to have their own following on this blog, I took a photo:

It looks even better in a photo lit by flourescent lights, doesn’t it?  The salad today had arugula, baby chard, other assorted baby lettuces, onion, sunflower greens, sprouted red lentils, sprouted mung beans, capers, and a couple teaspoons of Lite Asiago Parmesan dressing (lovingly bottled by Kraft).

Because of the thunderstorm, the day ended on a good note, and the day also started on a good note as well, because I stepped on the scale, and liked the number that I saw:

DOWN ANOTHER POUND!

That puts me at 258, which means 144 total pounds lost.  I’m 6 pounds away from losing 150, and 8 pounds away from my next goal, which is to lose 152 pounds.

I immediately updated my chart:

Keep it up, David!

P.S. – For more on my weight loss chart, click here.


What’s in the RediSetGo? Part Four

October 18, 2010

Are you buckled in?  Hair tied back, and all loose articles out of your pockets?  Because it’s time for the game that has everyone talking, What’s in the RediSetGo?

If you haven’t played before, you have been missing out on hours of priceless entertainment.  You can catch up on the installments that you missed right here:

The game couldn’t be simpler.  There’s something in my RediSetGo.  But what?  That’s how you play.  So… are your thinking caps on?  Because here we go!

What’s in the RediSetGo?

A PUPUSA is in the RediSetGo!

That’s right – What’s in the RediSetGo went international!  A pupusa is a very popular street food in El Salvador.  It’s about the size and thickness of a pancake, but made from a corn-based dough (similar in texture to the corn dough used in tamales), and filled with either cheese, pork, beans, or a combo of all three.  This one was cheese and beans.

I had never even heard of pupusas before coming to Los Angeles.  Actually, I didn’t know about them until about a year ago when I started noticing pupuserias in my new neighborhood – you know, scattered among the strip clubs.   I had to look up what they were, and then, some time ago, I got around to trying one from a taco truck parked down the street.   Mmm – tasty!  And served with curtido, which Wikipedia defines as “lightly fermented cabbage slaw with red chilies and vinegar” – which was good, but not something I would need to eat that often.

Months passed after I tried that pupusa, until last night, when I was shopping at Superior Grocers, and I noticed pupusas in the freezer section.  I bought a box (for $5.89):

I’m certain these pupusas won’t be as good as taco truck pupusas, but one benefit of these is that I can read the nutrition label.  And because 1 pupusa is 200 calories and 8 grams of fat, I’ve decided they’re fine as an occasional element of my diet.   And they’re easy – about 5 minutes in the RediSetGo, and voila!  A pupusa!  I actually cooked this one last night and took it to work today, along with a banana, 6 oz of nonfat yogurt, 4 fresh figs, and a giant Tupperware of raw veggies (cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, carrots, bell pepper).  I intended on eating half of the spread for lunch, and the other half for dinner, but today I kinda grazed every couple hours all day long on something or other.

I also intended on hitting the gym after work, but I ended up staying at the office until nearly 9pm, and I decided to just go home instead.  My 7-8 minute commute home turned into a 35-minute ordeal because I ended up about 1/4 mile behind what turned out to be a 4 or 5 car pile-up on the freeway.  It shut down 4 of the freeway’s 5 lanes, and there were no exits between me and the accident.  Good times.

This is going to be a particularly crazy week at work, and I suspect there might be a couple other late nights which will deter me from working out.  So I’m gonna have to make sure to stay on track, diet-wise.  I’m only 9 pounds away from my next goal!   And I’ll be weighing myself tomorrow – looking forward to what the scale says!

Keep it up, David!


One Day, Two Markets

October 17, 2010

Today was a long day, but a good one.  I got up early, as planned, and went to Sherri’s 9am aerobics class at Slimmons – and my friend Jen came along with me.  It was her first time to Sherri’s class, and about my 20th, and we both had a good time and had a good workout – 90 minutes, split up between dance aerobics, free weights, stuff at the bar (like squats and leg lifts), sit-ups and ab work, and stretching.  Phew.

Even though it was still drizzly, we headed over to the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market afterwards.  I left my camera in the car because of the rain, but I ended up cleaning up pretty well:

Clockwise from top:

  • Baby lettuce mixture – $4.20
  • Sprouts (sunflower, mung bean, and red lentil) – $7.00
  • 1 enormous cucumber – $1.00
  • 1 head cauliflower – $1.00
  • 1 basket fresh figs – $4.00
  • 1 persimmons – $1.00
  • 3 bell peppers – $2.00
  • 1 basket cherry tomatoes – $2.00
  • 1 eggplant – $0.50
  • 1 oz Jamaican Jerk beef jerky – $2.00 (not pictured, because I ate it in the car on the way home)
  • Grand Total: $24.70 (more than I’m used to spending at the farmer’s market, but oh well.)

I’m not kidding when I say the cucumber is enormous.  Here it is next to an apple.

Enormous.

The persimmons is this week’s new-for-me item – every week I try to buy something that I’ve never bought before, to expand my horizons (in the past couple weeks I’ve bought cactus pears, pineapple guava, and passion fruit).  My persimmons:

The guys that sold it to me said it’d be ready in a day or two, and then I can cut it up and eat it like an apple.  They also said something about a few seeds, possibly in strange places, but they were both kinda talking at once, and all I was focusing on how rain was dripping on my head from the edge of the tent above me.

And I specifically picked this bell pepper because the strange growth appealed to me.  Have you ever cut open a red pepper and inside the cavity there’s a tiny green bell pepper growing in there?  A pepper in a pepper – always a fun surprise.  Here’s a pepper outside a pepper:

Later in the day, after working from home and taking a little nap-a-roonie on the couch, I realized that I was low in other non-produce types of food.  I needed oatmeal, sparkling water, and some protein sources.  So at 7pm, I headed out to a grocery store I had never been to before, Superior Grocers:

According to their website, they have 34 stores throughout southern California, and yet, this is the only one I’ve ever noticed.  It’s very close to my house, but I don’t have a good reason for never going in.  I drive by it every day on the way to work, and although you can’t really make it out in the photo, there’s a banner under the store name advertising their Anniversary Sale.  Seemed like a good time to check it out.

The store was crowded, a little cramped, and a little dirty, but they had some good prices.  I’ll have to go back when the Anniversary Sale is over and compare, naturally, but, among other things, I picked up 4 plums ($0.17), 2 bananas ($0.28), 1 large cantaloupe ($0.97), and a pineapple ($1.49 – 1 cent cheaper than at Super King!).  They had a small selection, but good prices, on Morningstar frozen fake meat products (I bought phony sausage links for $3.69); Yoplait Lights for $0.69 cents each (I bought 4), and…  eh. That’s enough of that.  I’m even boring myself.

On the flipside, however, I saw moldy grapefruit on display, and the flies that had already found them.  Yuck.  That’s when I pushed my cart right out of the produce section.

I’ll share a couple of the other things I bought later in the week, and OHHH! I nearly forgot! I’m pretty sure this dude was checking me out at Superior Grocers!  I can’t say I was looking my best – I confess I was still wearing my gym clothes, despite have finished the workout over 8 hours prior – but this guy somehow ended up strolling by me in 4 different aisles, and I could see in my periphery the sideways glances and lingering stares.  Too bad he had a skeevy, lecherous vibe and a cart overflowing with junk food, and the whole thing made me feel altogether uncomfortable.

But hey.  I can’t think of the last time that’s happened to me in public…  so…

Keep it up, David!


My Plans Changed. Oh, And I’m Turning Into The Hulk.

October 16, 2010

Earlier today I wasn’t feeling my best, and decided to take the day off from exercising.  That was about 10 hours ago, and my plans ended up changing.

The thing that got the change ball rolling was my work.  I knew I’d have to put in a considerable amount of time working from home this weekend, and sure enough, I ended up putting in about 5 hours since I blogged last.  They ended up being a really productive 5 hours, too – and when I was shutting down my home office for the day (my dining room table), I realized I felt a lot better, too.  My muscle aches had gone away.  In fact, while earlier I was feeling lethargic, now I was downright antsy.

I also was feeling something that was quite familiar, and bear with me, because I’ve never tried to articulate it before – I wasn’t hungry (I had eaten for dinner a big salad with a veggie burger crumbled in it), but I felt like eating.  And it wasn’t just a regular desire to eat, it was kinda like a desire to be naughty.  I wasn’t craving anything in particular, but I just knew that if I didn’t so something, I’d be scrounging my cupboards, or heading to the mini-mart across the street – I have a long history of acting on this eating-to-be-naughty feeling that involves quick trips to a convenience store and coming back with a big bag of Cheetos or a pint of ice cream.  Or both, and one of those packages of mini-donuts, because hey, why not?

A few months ago I realized that a great way to combat this feeling was to exercise.  So, despite planning on not working out today, I went for a jog.  At 9:45pm on a Saturday night.  It was very gently raining – almost like a mist, instead of rain – and pretty much instantly I knew I had made the right decision.  I felt strong and was able to maintain a good pace.  I ended up running for 2.9 miles before stopping, and then a nice .5 mile cool-down walk back home.

Oh, and check this out!  Way back when during my first week of blogging, I posted some photos illustrating the way that my body was changing – namely, I was starting to see bones where I couldn’t see bones before.  Click here to read that post.  Well, I have a new photo to add – I was noticing on Wednesday at the gym that I’m seeing all sorts of things in my neck that I never could see before.  I starting to look like The Hulk:

That area used to be where I stored all my extra chins.

And yes, that’s a tattoo on my shoulder.  I’ve had it since 1999, and yes, Mom and Dad, I still love it.

Keep it up, David!


Achy.

October 16, 2010

Not feeling my best today.  Woke up a little achy and sore, and despite sleeping well through the night, woke up tired.  Maybe I’m just a little run-down.  Maybe I just need a few days to recalibrate and catch up.  That’s what the weekend is for, isn’t it?

Last night was a quiet night.  I had brought my gym clothes to work with me, so I could hit the gym right after work, but I made an executive decision as I was leaving the office to skip it and head home.  There, I vegged on my couch, watched 2 episodes of The Office, skipped writing a blog post, and went to bed early.   Yep – an exciting Friday night for me!

This morning when I woke up, I had that feeling you get the morning after a tough workout, even though I didn’t actually work out yesterday.  I ended up sleeping through my alarm and Richard Simmons’ Saturday morning class.  And now, I don’t feel like working out today, so maybe I won’t.  If I don’t, it will be the first time since the first weekend in August that I went two days in a row without exercising.  That’s something to be proud of, for sure, but at the same time, maybe I should just let my body catch up.  I have had, after all, some great (and strenuous) workouts this week:

  • Sunday, 10/10:  45 minutes on the exercise bike in the gym in my building.
  • Monday, 10/11:  Worked until 9:30pm – so no workout.
  • Tuesday, 10/12:  Had an amazing run with my friend Kristy – read about it here.  Set personal best for distance – 3.8 miles – and ran roughly 50 minutes.
  • Wednesday, 10/13:  Spent 50 minutes lifting weights at the gym – focused on arms, chest, shoulders, and back.
  • Thursday, 10/14:  Latin Jam dance aerobics class.  1 hour.  A total blast, and very difficult.
  • Friday, 10/15:  Skipped gym, see above.
  • Saturday, 10/16:  No exercise yet, as of 2pm.

Tomorrow, I’m planning on going to a 90-minute, 9am aerobics class, then hitting the farmer’s market – just about my favorite way to start a Sunday.  Relaxing until then is sounding mighty nice, right about now.

Keep it up, David!


How Much Fruit Can I Buy For $2?

October 14, 2010

It was a busy day today (so I’m racing to publish this before midnight): lots going on at work, and Thursday night is Latin Jam night, which is fast becoming one of my favorite, and toughest, workouts.  But I was able to squeeze in a quick trip before class to my new favorite supermarket, Super King (here’s my account of my first visit to Super King), which I love because the produce is cheap Cheap CHEAP.  As I was getting out of my car in the parking lot, I opened my wallet, and realized I only had $2 in cash on me.  I was never planning on this being a huge shopping excursion – I only had about 10 minutes anyway before I had to leave to make it to class on time – so I concocted a little challenge for myself:  I needed to buy fruit to last me until Sunday, when I could pick up more at the Farmers’ Market.  So, my challenge was this: how much fruit could I buy at Super King for $2?

If I really wanted to max out my $2, I’d just buy 5 pounds of red plums, which was priced at 39 cents a pound.  But that’s no fun, because that’s a lot of red plums, and also, they weren’t quite ripe yet, and I needed stuff I could eat for breakfast tomorrow – the only fruit I had in my house was 1/4 of a pineapple, and an almost empty bag of Trader Joe’s frozen strawberries.  I also didn’t want to take the time to weigh anything, because I noticed on my way in that there were lines at the checkouts, and I only had minutes to shop and go.

First stop:  Bananas.  49 cents a pound.  They were bright yellow and ready to eat, and they’re the easiest fruit to throw in my lunch bag and take to the office.   I grabbed two.

I also grabbed 2 red plums, because the price (39 cents a pound) couldn’t be beat.  Hopefully they’ll be ready to go on Saturday.

They had about 6 varieties of apples, and the cheapest were galas, at 69 cents a pound.  I grabbed 3.  They hold up well, are ready to eat, and just about every morning I cut one up before heading out the door, and eat it in the car as I drive to work as part of my breakfast.

Lastly, 2 bartlett pears.  They were just about ripe (hopefully they only need a day), and pears might be my all-time favorite fruit.  And only 33 cents a pound!  Practically a steal.

So this is everything I had in my basket when I headed to the checkout:

I had my two dollars in my hand as the cashier rang me up, but I decided not to look the monitor until she said out loud what my total was.  It all came out to…. drum roll please… $1.65!

(Bananas: 33 cents. Pears: 29 cents. Apples: 82 cents. Plums: 21 cents.)  I could have bought almost another pound of plums!

I made it to Latin Jam class on time, and the class felt great tonight – great music, lots of sweat, and I felt a little more confident about the choreography than I sometimes do.

Oh – and this morning (it seems like forever ago) was a weigh-in day!  According to my scale, I’m down another pound – woo-hoo!  Time to update the chart:

I’m now 7 pounds away from losing 150 pounds, and 9 pounds away from reaching my next goal, which is 152 pounds, which would put my weight at an even 250.

I don’t think I’ve shared on this blog yet what my 152 pound reward is going to be, but about a month ago I decided that when I reach that goal, I’m going to the shooting range!  I wanna FIRE SOME GUNS!  I’ve only fired a gun once in my life, when I went during college to a range with my friend John, who had a few rifles.  It was a ball, although I scratched one of his rifles, and I felt bad about that, although John said it wasn’t a big deal, but I could tell that he was annoyed with me (Which reminds me, I should reconnect with John – I haven’t talked to him since I moved to LA 8 years ago).  And now, I have some good friends, Mat and Maggie, that wanna go fire some guns too, and they’re graciously waiting until I reach my goal, so we can all go together.  I’m getting there, Mat and Maggie!  Only 9 pounds to go!

Keep it up, David!


Happy Monthiversary!

October 13, 2010

It’s the one month anniversary of Keep It Up, David!  My very first post (and still one of my favorites) went up just after midnight on September 13, 2010.  Oh, how things were different back then…  Let’s take a trip down memory lane…

On September 13, 2010, Rafael Nadal won his 9th Grand Slam title when he beat Novak Djokovic at the U.S. Open.  People across the country were gathering at water coolers everywhere to discuss Lady Gaga’s various outfits from the VMAs the night before, and when they weren’t looking at her meat dress, their eyes were glued on the Atlantic Ocean, where Hurricane Igor was whipping itself up into a Category 5 storm.  I remember it all like it happened a few weeks ago…  which, of course, it did.

In more exciting news (to me, at least), during the 31 days that passed since my very first post, I’ve worked out 25 times and have lost 11 pounds.  I’ve written 49 blog posts (including this one) and have amassed a small but loyal following that is growing a little bit with each passing day.  There are times when I get perplexed that anyone would care a rat’s ass about what I have to say about anything, and yet, you keep coming back.  You leave amazing messages in the comments section.  You post kind things about me on Facebook, or tweet them to your followers.  Those of you that I know say things in person, in emails, over the phone, or over IM that fill me with such pride that it’s like a wave has come and practically swept me from my shoes.

The original idea behind this blog was that I could motivate myself to keep it up if I start keeping better track of my progress, struggles, and successes.  I decided to put it out there in the world-wide-interweb as a way to legitimize the process.  I knew some people close to me would enjoy reading it, and thought it would be a fantastic side effect if I inspired any of them.  But now, with very minimal promotion on my part, I’m gaining readers that I don’t even know – complete strangers! – and they seem to be spreading the word and coming back!  Watching that happen is been such a thrill – nearly as exciting as the roller coasters I wrote about back in that very first post (but not quite).

I’ll end this post with what I hope comes off as a very genuine and heartfelt thank you to all of you, my readers.  I’m elated that I have found a way to inspire you with humor and dignity, and I’m thankful that you keep coming back, and reading what I have to share, because that is a huge inspiration to me.

Okay – I’m done being mushy.  How about I celebrate my monthiversary with a ‘Before’ and ‘Current’ photo comparison?  ‘Before’ was taken 12/31/09, on a hike in Los Angeles when my sister Laura was in town.  ‘Current’ was two weekends ago, and 142 pounds lighter.

Keep it up, David!


Practice Jog #4 – A Major Milestone!

October 13, 2010

Previously on Keep It Up, David: I’m jogging now, and despite never setting foot in a strip club in my life, I set my first jogging goal: to jog past all four of the strip clubs within walking distance of my place – a route that totals 3.8 miles.  Until I discovered two more strip clubs during a recent practice jog, for a total of six strip clubs (you WISH you lived in my neighborhood, don’t you?), and a new route that stretches a whopping 6.4 miles.

A jogging milestone tonight!  I set a new personal best for distance, and reached my now-updated old first goal.  I jogged a total of 3.8 miles – past the original four strip clubs that I knew about in my neighborhood!  I can’t say that I reached my strip club goal, as the goal evolved with the discovery of the two additional neighborhood strip clubs, but I’m extremely proud anyway.  Had I not discovered those two other strip clubs, then man oh man I’d really be celebrating!  As a reminder, here’s the 4-strip-club route:

Dot F is a park near my place that’s the starting and stopping point, and Dots B, C, D, and E are all strip clubs.

The best part about tonight was that I had a jogging buddy – one of my closest friends, Kristy Hanson.  Kristy is a crazy talented singer-songwriter who just released a new album, Into the Quiet (learn more about her by clicking here to get to her website, or click here to sample and buy her album on iTunes), but more importantly to me, she’s been a great friend for the 11 years I’ve known her.  And not just because she loved my jog-past-strip-clubs idea as soon as she heard it, and has wanted to come along for a jog pretty much ever since.  I’m so glad she drove all the way up from Culver City (waaaay on the other side of town from North Hollywood, for you non-LA types) to exercise tonight.

Of all the jogs I’ve completed in the short couple of months I’ve been jogging, about half have been with someone else, and half solo.  Having a jogging partner makes a huge difference!  I find that it’s super helpful to have someone else there to maintain pace and time flew by quicker because we were about to chit chat.

The plan is to take photos of me in front of all 6 strip clubs when I finally reach my goal of jogging past all of them.  Since we jogged past the original 4 tonight,  I decided that as a reward (and, more importantly, a treat for all my readers – you’re welcome!), I should take one photo, in front of one of the strip clubs, as a motivational tool.  And here it is:  Ladies and Gentleman, a very sweaty David and Kristy in front of V.I.P Showgirls in North Hollywood, California:

Both Kristy and I failed to note what time we started the jog, so I can’t calculate my MPH or update the chart I created after my last jog, but that’s no biggie.  This jog felt great, was exhausting, and was the longest jog I’ve ever accomplished (3.8 miles versus 3.3 miles).  I feel wonderful, and eager to keep jogging.  The 6.4 miles, 6-strip-club goal is still pretty far away, but I’ll get there.  I know I will.

Keep it up, David!


Salad Secrets

October 12, 2010

I received a question today from a reader, which came in the form of a comment to an earlier blog post:

Hi! It’s Jeannie. What is the salad you make every few days with peppers?? Can you share it?

I love a good salad.  I enjoy not-as-good salads as well, if I’m being honest.  And what I think Jeannie is referring to is my habit of making myself a big ol’ salad for lunch a couple times a week.  I shared photos in this blog before – here’s one:

Here’s another (in the top right):

And here’s one I had last week (in the bottom center):

Jeannie, you asked your question on a good day, because guess what I had earlier today for lunch?  A salad!  I saw your comment just before I ate it, so I quick snapped a photo first on my blackberry:

And now, to answer your question, here’s my favorite salad recipe, so grab a pen or get ready to hit the print button:

I don’t have one.  Sorry to lead you on.

The salads all look pretty much the same, and they all have bell pepper of some color, but really, they all differ and they’re all kitchen sink salads – by which I mean I toss in whatever veggies I have on hand – and often, whatever veggies I want to use up.  Today, it was romaine lettuce, yellow bell pepper, 2 scallions, 3 radishes, about 2 tsp capers, a few roasted red pepper pieces, and instead of dressing I threw in a couple tablespoons of salsa (from a jar) and the juice of 1 lime.  Sometimes I have other types of lettuce on hand (I buy pre-washed spinach, arugula, or mixed greens at the farmers’ market nearly every weekend), and if I have cherry tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, or shredded cabbage from one of those prepared cole-slaw mix bags (which I often buy because they’re cheap), then I’ll toss those in too.  I have about 4 different bottles of various lite or fat-free dressings (my favorite right now is Newman’s Own Lite Honey Mustard), but right now I have a few limes, so I decided to go that route today.

Despite the whatever-I-have-on-hand nature of my salads, I do keep a couple other things in stock in my pantry to spice up the salads.  I try to keep a couple cans of beans around at all times (the salad in the first photo had canned garbanzo beans in it, but I also like black and great northern beans as well), as well as a can or jar of pickled beets.  Right now I have a can of sliced olives on the shelf that I bought for salad purposes, and in my fridge is a jar of Trader Joe’s roasted red peppers that I’m working my way through and used today.  Oh – I keep soy bacon bits around to add texture and flavor (they add less than 30 calories and 1 gram of fat per tablespoon).

Lastly, I’ve been tossing a couple teaspoons of capers on every salad I’ve made for the past couple months.  I love capers, which is a good thing, because I have the largest jar of capers you’ll ever see:

That’s 1 quart of capers.  It’s practically the size of a bottle of wine (which I added to the photo for comparison’s sake).  It was a gift from my friend and old roommate Ani, who got it from her father, who is a baker and apparently has some sort of underground caper connection, because he ended up buying a case of capers (something like 20 or 24 quart jars) at a ridiculously low price.  I never did ask what became of the other jars, although I’ve always been curious.

Ani gave me the jar probably about 4 years ago, and it took me that long (of only occasional caper consumption) to get through half the quart (I presume since brine is salt-based, and salt is the best preservative on earth, that they’re still safe to eat).  But now I’m adding capers to salads a couple times a week, and I’m ready to finish off that jar, and not buy capers again for a long long time.  I suspect I still may have a couple months of caper-filled salads ahead of me, but since they’re so good, that won’t be a problem.

I wish, Jeannie, that I had a better answer to your question (or an actual recipe or a link or something), but that’s the skinny on my salads… are you gonna start making salads now, or changing up your salads somehow?  Keep it up, Jeannie!   And…

Keep it up, David!


Monday Evening Hodge-Podge

October 11, 2010

I’m determined to get this post published by midnight, because I planned on posting something today, and today has turned out to be mighty loooong.  I didn’t get home from work until about 10pm, and, as a result, bailed on my plan to hit the gym after leaving the office.  I’m not fretting about missing my workout, though, because yesterday I did 45 minutes on the bike (about 10.7 miles), and tomorrow I’m planning my next practice jog, and with a very special guest, who I’m very excited to see, even though you might not be aware of this person… yet.  So be sure to come back and check it out!

When I got home a little while ago, the first thing I did was attack one of my cactus pears.  You remember these guys, right?  I bought them yesterday at Super King for 17 cents:

You may know them as prickly pears, or, if you’re like me before yesterday, you may not really know them at all.  Let me first say that I learned tonight they’re called prickly pears for a reason – they hurt!  There are prickers embedded in those brown spots, and they’re tiny.  When one gets embedded in, say, I don’t know, the side of your middle finger and you feel it every time it rubs up against your ring finger, and you can’t see it, but it’s aggravating, painful, and makes typing your blog post a little more difficult nonetheless.  (I’m too tired to go back and fix that run-on sentence.)

So.  After deciding to handle the cactus pear more delicately, I got to the task of taking one apart.  First, I sliced off both ends, and made a couple long cuts down the length of the pear, so I could remove a piece of the skin.  This made removing the rest of the skin easier, as I could basically peel it, like a banana.  A dangerous banana.

I didn’t use the knife to peel it, I used my hands – I just stuck the knife there for the photo, so you could see how I was separating the flesh from the skin.   When I was done, I was left with a pricker-free oval of cactus pear flesh:

Which I cut up, and put in a bowl:

Which I ate.  Haley, a fellow blogger from Hawaii, noted in her blog that cactus pear tastes like a combination of watermelon and kiwi.  I’d say it tastes more like watermelon, but blander.  Like watermelon, it’s crisp yet watery, and like some watermelon (seedless varieties excluded), it’s full of seeds.  And those seeds are hard.  If you bite down on one, your first thought becomes, ‘oh crap, did I just chip a tooth?’   Just another reason consuming cactus pear is a risky endeavor.  Cactus pear is the fugu of the fruit world.  But when it comes down to it, despite the inherent risks for injury, I would recommend the cactus pear.  It never hurts to expand your culinary horizons, especially when you can get 2 for 17 cents!

Since I’m on the subject of new foods, remember these?

The Japanese fish balls I picked up in Little Toyko last weekend!  The Age Balls (package on the right) were long gone, but I didn’t touch the Minch Balls (package on the left) until yesterday.  And they were tasty.  I was going to take a photo of one cut open, but I forgot.  Oops.  They were a little more savory than the Age Balls (which had almost a maple-y glaze), had herbs sprinkled throughout them, and were still very tasty.  I’ll vouch for both processed fish balls – if you see them in your local Japanese supermarket, try a package.  They’re low in calories and fat (each minch ball is only 25 calories and 1 fat gram), and I’d definitely buy them again.  I’d also try one of the other 4 or 5 types of fish balls at the Japanese supermarket where I found these… a whole new world of processed fish products is unfolding before my eyes like an origami pterodactyl!

Woo-hoo!  Publishing this post at 11:01pm!  59 minutes to spare….

Keep it up, David!