A Third Way To Eat a Pummelo

February 28, 2011

Previously on Keep It Up, David: Inspired by a tweet sent out by fellow weight-loss blogger Julia, I bought a pummelo, and hacked it apart and consumed it in a manner I learned from a YouTube video (which I can also thank Julia for tweeting, so thank you!).  After blogging about it (read the post and see the pictures here), another blogger, Reinaldo, suggested another way of eating pummelos, so, when I bought my second pummelo, I ate it that way (and blogged about it, with pictures and everything, here).

Guess what?  I bought my third pummelo, and used a third method to eat it!  To refresh your memory, here’s what a pummelo looks like:

It’s the biggest citrus fruit in the world.  Bigger than navel oranges, bigger than grapefruit.

My friend Nicolette suggested, in a comment on the blog, that I try eating a pummelo like she eats a grapefruit.  Since pummelos are very similar to grapefruit (in that they’re big and sour, although not quite as sour), I thought I’d give it a whirl.  Turns out the way she eats grapefruit is the same way I ate grapefruit growing up.  My mom used to prepare grapefruit for me and my siblings this way when I was little (which she learned from her mom), but I haven’t eaten a grapefruit this way in years and years (I’ve bought grapefruit in the past year, and gotten free grapefruit from my friend Tavi’s tree, but I’ve just been juicing them).

Here’s what you do:

1) Cut the pummelo in half, around its equator, so to speak:

2) Using a paring knife, cut around the perimeter of the flesh, separating the edible part from the rind:

3) Then cut on either side of each membrane that radiate from the center to the outside:

(By the way, taking these photos with my left hand while cutting with my right was no easy feat!)

4) Once you’ve cut along both sides of each membrane, you’ll easily be able to lift individual segments of pummelo out with a spoon:

Mmm, pummelo!  Growing up, my mom would sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar on the grapefruit before doing all the cutting, just to sweeten it up a bit.  She also had grapefruit spoons – spoons with serrated tips that were especially designed for digging out grapefruit sections.  Here’s what a grapefruit spoon looks like (although my mom’s don’t have hideous handles like this one does):

After I ate all the segments, I squeezed all the juice into a glass:

Here’s my juice bounty:

I took about half of it, and added it to a tall glass of sparkling water that I made with my SodaStream, and voila! Pummelo-flavored sparkling water!

The other 1/2 of the pummelo juice I chugged, like it was a shot.  Delicious!

I like this method of pummelo consumption, mainly because it’s easy, relatively tidy (you don’t end up with puddles of juice on your plate or counter), and, for me, there’s a nice nostaglia factor.

Anyone else out there got any fantastic pummelos ideas?  I’m definitely planning on buying a fourth pummelo… help me figure out how I’m gonna eat it!

Keep it up, David!


My Second Run, Post-Attitude Adjustment

February 27, 2011

I woke up today and was greeted by a brand-new best friend on my forehead – a zit.  Is it gross to post a photo of a zit on a blog?  Oh well, I’m doing it anyway:

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never had a huge acne problem.  I get a zit every once in a while, but I wasn’t one of those teenagers that suffered terrible acne break-outs.  As a result, I’ve also never really had a skin-care regimen.  I use soap in the shower, and that’s about it.  Oh, and I drink tons of water, which everyone says is great for your skin.  I shoot for a gallon of water a day.  I don’t drink the water expressly for my skin – I drink it because I like it, and it’s healthy, and the skin thing is just a added benefit.

What’s in the future for this zit?  I guess I’ll let it run its course.  Unless it gets bigger and worse, in which case I might take matter into my own hands, by which I mean I’ll apply a little toothpaste to it.  Isn’t that supposed to work?  I remember hearing that on TV years and years ago.

There was no time this morning to focus on the zit anyway, because I had plans to meet my friend Amy at 9am to go running!  I met Amy a few months after moving to Los Angeles over 8 years ago – we were both Pages at NBC (like Kenneth on 30 Rock), and we’ve been friends since.  She read my post last week about adjusting my crappy attitude towards running, and suggested I join her for a run that she really enjoys, in Encino.  Since part of my plan to enjoy running again involves running in new locations, I was game.  Plus, at 9am on Sunday, it was only a 15 minute drive.

At 9am, we were in the parking lot of the Balboa Golf Course.  Amy runs here regularly – at one point she was training for a marathon, until an injury derailed her training – and was familiar with the paths.  There’s a trail that circles the golf course that totals 3.2 miles, or we could do a route that’s about 5 miles.  I’ve only run 5 miles once in my life, and so we decided to do the 3.2 mile route, and just extend it if we were feeling good.

The path around the golf course was mostly hard-packed gravel, and all the rain from the past 2 days had created a lot of mud that I did my best to avoid (I’m glad I wore my old shoes).  There was one time I couldn’t avoid it, and it was the worst kind of mud – really thick, like pudding, and slick – I had to be careful for my next few steps, for fear of slipping or sliding, because I knew that if I slipped, I’d definitely fall, and maybe even die.  (Sorry to be so extreme, but ever since my near-fatal run a few weeks ago, that’s where my mind goes!)

I haven’t gone running with a friend in a long time, and it really does make a huge difference.  It’s nice to have someone there alongside you, and, as a result, I felt really good during the run.  My pace might have been a little on the slow side, but it was consistent, and I did notice my thoughts were along the lines of “I can probably keep this up for a while” instead of “How much longer ’til this is over?”  So, when the time came to choose between heading back to the car or extending the run beyond the 3.2 mile loop, we opted to go further.

We headed up Balboa Boulevard, and entered Lake Balboa Park, which is a big city park built around a man-made 80-acre lake.  There’s playground equipment, and in the summer you can rent paddleboats, and you can fish and picnic and relax.  There’s a path that circles the lake, so Amy and I ran around that.

I went back afterwards to take these pictures.  Here’s the lake, with the mountains in the background:

Note the snow-capped mountains.  That can be seen from Los Angeles – a very rare sight!  It actually snowed in Burbank yesterday, for only the third time in recorded history, and my car was pelted by hail yesterday, too.  Very exciting!

The cherry blossoms were in bloom, so there was lots of pretty trees to run past:

And there were also tons and tons of birds.  Birds everywhere.  There were lots of birds that I recognized, like ducks and pigeons and seagulls.  I didn’t see this swan when Amy and I were running, but when I circled back to shoot these photos, there he was:

Then there were the birds that I didn’t recognize.  Any ornithologists out there?  There were hundreds of these guys, everywhere – what are they?

And here they are walkin’ around:

And then there were these guys, who might be some sort of heron, or crane, or emu, or dodo?

I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure I’ve discovered where those birds like to shit – it’s right there, on that roof.  Gross!

The path around the lake is 1.3 miles.  After that, we headed back to the parking lot.  I looked at my iPod when we were finished, and the run lasted…. 60 minutes, exactly.  WOW.  This is only the second time ever I’ve run for a full hour without stopping!  The distance, though, is an educated guess:  the two loops we ran were 3.2 and 1.3 miles, so that’s 4.5 miles, and the educated guess part is that we think we ran about .5 miles between them.  Amy and I agreed upon calling it a 5-mile run.  Time to update the chart!

  • 9/21/10: Distance: 3.1 miles.  Time: 41 minutes.  MPH: 4.53
  • 9/27/10: Distance: 3.3 miles.  Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 4.4
  • 10/5/10: Distance: 3.2 miles.  Time: 40 minutes.  MPH: 4.8
  • 10/12/10: Distance: 3.8 miles.  Forgot to note time and MPH
  • 10/16/10: Distance: 2.9 miles.  Forgot to note time and MPH
  • 11/1/10: Distance: 3.1 miles.  Time: 36 minutes.  MPH: 5.16
  • 11/6/10: Distance: 5.1 miles. Time: 60 minutes.  MPH: 5.1
  • 11/14/10: Distance: 3.9 miles. Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 5.2
  • 11/28/10: Distance: 4.2 miles. Time: 46 minutes.  MPH: 5.47
  • 1/4/11: Distance: 3.0 miles. Time: 34 minutes.  MPH: 5.3
  • 1/24/11: Distance: 4.4 miles.  Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 5.86
  • 2/1/11: Distance: 1.9 miles.  Time: 20 minutes.  MPH: 5.7
  • 2/9/11: Distance: 3.5 miles.  Time: 38 minutes.  MPH: 5.52
  • 2/16/11: Distance: 2.9 miles.  Time: 33 minutes.  MPH: 5.28
  • 2/27/11: Distance: 5 miles.  Time: 60 minutes.  MPH: 5.0

As suspected, not my fastest run, but I’m still very proud.

Keep it up, David!

A Week and a Half Of Workouts

February 26, 2011

It’s been well over a week – since Valentine’s Day, actually – since I last ran down what I’ve been doing for exercise.  Too long!  So here we go, working backwards from today.

Friday, 2/25: Wanted to go to the pool, but it was cold and raining, and it’s an outdoor pool.  Decided to wait for clearer skies, and hit the gym instead, where I did about 15-20 minutes of weight-lifting, then 51 minutes on the elliptical while watching a SNL special that was being rerun on Vh1.  I sure do love Tina Fey!

Thursday, 2/24: Richard Simmons’ class at Slimmons, which is about 45 minutes of cardio aerobics, 10 minutes of free weights, and 10 minutes of sit-ups and push-ups.

Wednesday, 2/23: Fun at the gym:  50 minutes on the arc trainer, and 15 minutes or so with some free weights.

Tuesday, 2/22: I grumpily made it a rest day.  I was sneezing and blowing my nose all day, and decided to take a day off so my body could focus on fighting the cold I had caught somewhere.  It worked – the next day, felt way better!  Bummed, though, because I wanted to go to Craig Ramsay‘s boot camp class, which I’ve been enjoying.  Instead, I watched Glee while lying in bed, which I also enjoyed.

Monday, 2/21 (Presidents’ Day): Unintentional rest day.  This was the day that I learned to shoot a pistol at the firing range.  I made it home around 3pm or so.  I was planning on working out that evening, after taking a little power nap.  I went down for the nap at 7pm, and got up from it at… 9am the next day! I can’t remember the last time I got 14 hours of sleep.  All that sleep felt really good, to be honest.  I think my body was catching up from my long, wonderful, but exhausting weekend (which is thoroughly documented here, here, here, and here).  I think my cold, which had made its presence known earlier in the day (thru sniffling and general stuffiness), also played a part.

Sunday, 2/20: No dedicated workout, but I spent 10 hours walking around Knott’s Berry Farm, and apart from lunch, and actually being on rides, I wasn’t sitting down at all.  So I’m counting that as exercise.

Saturday, 2/19: Richard’s class at Slimmons (see 2/24, above).

Friday, 2/18: Rest Day.

Thursday, 2/17: Fun in the pool.  I swam 2600 yards.  You can see how I broke it down at the end of this post.

Wednesday, 2/16: I went running, after giving myself an attitude adjustment, which you can read about here.  (I ran for 33 minutes, then did 27 minutes on a bike at the gym.)

Tuesday, 2/15: Went to Craig’s boot camp class, which lasted an hour.  I was sore for the next 36 hours.  He called this particular class his ‘slow burn’ class, so it was a lot of weights, and a lot of slow, deliberate movements, and at the end I could barely lift my arms.

Looking back at these 11 days, I wish that 3 of them weren’t rest days, but I didn’t plan them that way.  And what am I gonna do about it now?  Nothin’.  So it’s not worth dwelling on.

Tomorrow I have an appointment, so I won’t be able to go to Richard’s class.  Haven’t decided what I’ll do instead, but I’ll figure it out.

Keep it up, David!

Song Inspiration and Weight Update

February 25, 2011

Last night was simply exhausting, physically and emotionally.  It started off at Slimmons, where I took Richard Simmons’ class, and what a great class it was.  It wasn’t too crowded, and he played some great songs.  I went in with the mindset that I was really going to push myself during class, and apparently Richard had the same thought, because before the class was over, we had done hundreds and hundreds of leg lifts, and some new toning and ab exercises that really challenged me.  I was sore.  I was pooped.

But the evening wasn’t over yet – I still had a concert to go to, and I was performing during it (!).  My friends Kristy and Mike were premiering a bunch of new songs they had written.  Kristy sings and plays guitar, and Mike plays bass, and oh yeah, they’re married, and I’ve known them both since college.  Kristy has put out a handful of albums, which Mike has collaborated on, and at the beginning of the month, they decided to take on this insane project called the RPM Challenge, where they write and record an entire album in one month’s time.  Yikes!

Their approach was novel.  They ended up creating a little side band, called East Paris, and roped in a bunch of their writer friends as collaborators.  One of them was me.  We each provided them with some of our writing – I gave them two blog posts (this one, and this one), which they used as inspiration for a new song.  They had six new songs in total, and last night, they performed them for the first time.  As an added bonus, they invited the writers to come, and read aloud the work that had served as inspiration.  I happily agreed to do a reading when Kristy asked me last week, but as the day progressed yesterday, I found myself getting more and more nervous.

Here’s the thing: The blog post I read, called One Year Ago Today, wasn’t a brand new piece of writing.  I put it out there, into the world, a month ago.  But with blogging, I don’t ever really get to be present when my writing is consumed.  I put it out there, and move along with my day, and all you read it at your own convenience.  Except for the comments you leave, I’m not privy to your reactions.  Last night, though, I had to verbally share a post that is pretty personal, and I’m not used to that, and it kinda terrified me.  I felt really vulnerable.  But I got up, took a deep breath, read my piece, and did fine.  Then I sat down, and listened as Kristy and Mike played an absolutely beautiful song based on my blog and my journey.  It’s called “Today’s the Day,” and I think I would have cried had I not sweated all the liquid out of my body a few hours prior.  You’ll have a chance to hear it, at some point, after they record it – I’ll be sure to link to it here once I get my hot little hands on it.  I’ll probably play it on a loop on my iPod until the end of time!

In the meantime, check out Kristy’s other albums – I think you’ll really enjoy her music, I know I do.  This is her iTunes page, and here’s her website.  You can follow both Kristy and Mike on Twitter, and follow the East Paris blog they started to document their RPM Challenge process.

I also wanted to quickly give another quick update. It’s been a while since I’ve had a weigh-in or posted a picture of my weight loss chart, and I wanted to explain why.  As you regular blog readers know, I’ve held steady at 241 pounds for a few weeks now – since my February 4 weigh-in, in fact.  Since my last weigh-in, I’ve found myself starting to obsess a little about ending this little plateau, and I don’t like that at all, so I decided to remove the scale from the equation, and skip my weigh-in this week.  I tell myself over and over again to stop focusing on the number, but that’s where my mind seems to naturally head, so fuck it.  If there’s no number to focus on, than I’ll just have to continue focusing on my eating and exercise, like I should be.  With my weigh-in this week canceled, I’m now due to step on the scale on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.  We’ll see what happens!

In the meantime, I’ve off to the gym!

Keep it up, David!

Valentine’s Chocolate Update

February 24, 2011

Earlier this month, I held my first-ever contest and giveaway, where I invited readers to guess what was in the Valentine’s Day care package that my mom was sending me.  Over 30 of you entered, and I determined that Cheri, in British Columbia, Canada, came closest, by accurately guessing that my mom would send me homemade cookies, and they’d be heart-shaped.  The care package also included some heart-shaped chocolates, which I re-packaged with the cookies, and shipped to Cheri as her prize.  She was really excited to win – she’s never won anything before – and so you gotta love that!  I’ve exchanged a few emails with Cheri since she won the contest, and she told me a little about one of her weight-loss strategies, and allowed me to share it all with you…  You’re definitely going to be intrigued, like I was… so keep reading… but first, the candy/cookies update:

Cheri received the package, and since she runs a day care, she divvied up the chocolates along the kids she looks after.  The cookies didn’t survive the trip (I blame me for packing them poorly).  She says the chocolates didn’t last more than 5 minutes, but she managed to snap a few pictures before they were completely devoured:

Fantastic pictures, Cheri – thank you!

When she was sending me her address, Cheri dropped this little phrase into her email which I read, then immediately re-read  three more times:

“I was hypnotized 2 weeks ago, so no longer eat chocolate…”
OK.  You know how dogs, when they hear the word ‘play’ or ‘treat’ or whatever word get them excited, perk their ears up, and cock their head, and just stare?  That was me after reading that sentence.  I’ve heard of people using hypnosis to quit smoking (and actually know someone who’s done it), but I haven’t met anyone who has used hypnosis to help with weight loss.  I had to know more, so I asked Cheri to elaborate.  Cheri has gained and lost weight before, and is currently trying to lose it again.  She wrote:
“I know the struggle of weight loss.  I weighed 180lbs, and went down to 125lbs.  Then, after my second daughter, I went up to who knows what, then started weight loss again at 185lbs, and then have lost 25lbs so far.”
First of all, congrats, Cheri!  25 pounds is fantastic – Keep It Up!  And for my other Canadian readers, as well as my readers in every other country in the world, 25 pounds is 11.34 kilograms – not too shabby!
Here’s why Cheri turned to hypnosis.  In her own words:
“As for hypnotized, it was my first time. I figured I would give it a try, and anything is worth trying at least once, and if it worked, then great.  I went in with the positive attitude that it would work. I had her focus on not eating chocolate & drinking pop, which of course, at that time, I did daily (and craved like crazy).  The session lasted just over an hour.  I left that day no longer craving chocolate, and no longer drinking pop.  I just don’t want it.  If I even think of eating it, its almost like there is a mental block that allows me to rethink [that] I actually don’t want it, and I am able to leave it alone.  It’s been two weeks and I have yet to touch the stuff!
I am going to make another appointment, and ask her to make me more aware of stopping eating when I am content… and to not eat when I am not hungry.  The hypnotist said (and I have googled this) that 95% of the people who have been hypnotized for weight loss are successful.
My Dad’s wife just went yesterday, so I’m waiting to see how things went for her.  She said that she felt good after it and that the hypnotist said that she went deep. So I would be surprised if she did not have similar results to me.”
I’m so fascinated that you’ve undergone hypnosis, Cheri, and thrilled that it’s working for you!  Will you keep us posted after that second appointment?
Have you tried anything unique or different in your attempts to lose weight?  How did they work out for you?  If you’re interested in sharing with the Keep It Up, David audience your weight loss stories, drop me a line and tell me about it at keepitupdavid@gmail.com – I’d love to hear from you!
OK – I gotta take off… There a very exciting event tonight that I’m participating in… be sure to check back here, because I’ll definitely be writing about it!
Keep it up, David!

Celebratory Excursion to the Firing Range

February 23, 2011

Last summer, when I reached my goal of losing 100 pounds, I set a new goal – to lose 50 more.  My reward to myself for losing 100 pounds was a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain, which I took in September.  Right around then, I also decided on a reward for losing 50 more – a trip to the gun range.  I’ve fired a gun once before in my life – a rifle, back when I was in college, and for a long time, I’ve really wanted to shoot a pistol.  I have no interest in owning a gun, because having one in my house frightens me, but shooting one in a controlled, safe environment… well, sign me up!

In December, I reached my goal and had lost 50 more pounds – Woo-hoo!  Time to go shooting!  Except that, for a while, life kinda got in the way.  I reached my goal a few days into a 3-week trip out of town, and then I ended up traveling for part of January, so now it’s February, but my friends Mat and Maggie (who also have been hankering for fire a firearm) and I finally found a day to head down to shoot some guns.  So, on Presidents’ Day, we took full advantage of the second amendment, and headed down to LAX Firing Range:

It’s a few blocks from the airport, so it’s appropriately named.

We took their Beginner Firearms Training Course, which is a two-hour class that introduces you to a gun.  You can check it out on their website – which says that firing guns is good for people who “seek stress reduction (enjoy euphoric rushes of energy combined with inner peacefulness — much like yoga)” – I kinda love that.

Danny was our instructor.  Danny has been around guns quite literally his whole life – he told me he started learning about them when he was three.  I don’t know how many guns he has now, but he casually mentioned at least 3 during our class.  At any rate, Danny knew what he was talking about, and was a great teacher.  The first half of the course was in a classroom, where Danny passed out unloaded Glocks and taught us how a gun works, and what all the parts are – I had no idea a gun had so many parts!  We went over gun safety, too, and then we got on our feet and Danny walked us through how to hold a gun, how to use the sights correctly, the proper stance, so you maintain the most control over your weapon, and how to actually pull the trigger, which makes all the difference in the world if you actually want to hit a target.

The second half of the class was actually in the firing range, which looked like every firing range I’ve seen in movies and TV:

There were about 14 lanes total, and the floor was littered with shell casings.  We had to put on noise-canceling headphones before entering, and good thing, because it was loud.

One by one, Danny brought us up to our lane, and we practiced shooting the pistol, with Danny reminding us of ways to improve our stance, position our body, and hold the gun.  I felt prepared to fire the gun, and the act of pulling the trigger turned out to be way more measured and controlled than I thought it would be.

That’s Mat on the left, Maggie in the center, and yours truly on the right, with Danny overseeing all of us.

We each had 3 turns firing the pistol, and we each emptied the gun’s magazine each time, for a total of 30 bullets.  Our target had the silhouette of a man on it, and for the first 2 turns, I fired at his chest, but then, to switch things up, on my third turn, I fired at his head.

Here’s Mat and Maggie with their targets afterwards:

I’m not one to regularly toot my own horn (although this self-centered blog may suggest otherwise), but it turns out that I’m kinda good at hitting targets!  After firing my first ten shots, and landing them all in the orange zone on the target (which was closest to the center), Maggie said, “OK, David, when the zombie apocalypse happens, you’re definitely coming with us!”

Here’s me and my target after the class was over:

And here’s a closer look:

I’m proud of that big hole right in the center.  That’s where I hit the same spot repeatedly with 6 or 7 bullets, and it’s only a few millimeters from the black dot Danny wanted us to hit!

And, yes, up in the corner are 20 extra bullets.  A box of 50 9-millimeter bullets came as part of the class, and since we only used 30 in the class, we all got some bullets to take home.  It’s a smart incentive to encourage people to come back to the range – I definitely want to go back, because what else am I going to do with them?  Fling them at intruders?

There’s a wide variety of targets you can shoot at, and I already know which target I want to shoot at next time – it’s Target #11:

That girl’s got it comin’!

Keep it up, David!

Knott’s Berry Farm!

February 22, 2011

I’m still catching up from all the fun I had over Presidents’ Day weekend.  You’d think lunch on Saturday at a fancy, famous restaurant would be enough, but nope!  Sunday proved to be an incredible day, too, which I spent with my cousins at Knott’s Berry Farm.  (Monday was also one hell of a day, but I’ll save that for my next post.)

I love roller coasters, but for most of my adult life I’ve stayed away from them, because I was too fat to ride them.  My very first post on this blog, back in September, was about going on roller coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and that was the first time I’d been on a roller coaster in eight years.  Here’s a little more of my history with roller coasters, from that blog post:

The last roller coaster I had ridden before today (excluding 2 kiddie ones at Legoland in June) was the one that goes around New York New York in Las Vegas in July of 2002, and it was a tight fit.  I had to suck in my gut and hold my breath to get that harness to click into place, and once I did, there was no room for me to exhale completely.  Good times.

That, however, was a better experience than the time before: maybe a year prior, I had an awful experience with friends at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio (the park I grew up going to, America’s Roller Coast, my all-time favorite park), where I was kicked off Raptor because I didn’t fit, in front of everyone in the station, by a thin (naturally) ride operator who really couldn’t have been ruder about the whole thing.  Now that’s a walk of shame – holding up a train full of people who have waited an hour or more, while a punk-ass guy scolds me, then tells me I have to leave, then getting up out of the train while trying to laugh it off and fight back a tear then shouting to my friends over my shoulder, ‘I’ll wait for you by the exit!’ as if I had any choice in the matter.

The first couple times I boarded a coaster at Six Flags, about 6 months ago, I had lingering fears that maybe, just maybe, I still wasn’t gonna fit – but the other day at Knott’s, the thought never even occurred to me once, and we went on a LOT of rides:  Eight different roller coasters, and we went on two of them twice (Xcelerator and Montezooma’s Revenge), and one of them (Ghost Rider) three times.  We also went on four other non-coaster rides, including Supreme Scream twice, which is the scariest ride in the park – It’s a freefall ride, where you get strapped into a seat, taken up about 250 feet, and then they drop you back to earth.  Here’s the tower:

There’s three towers, so they can accommodate more riders, and you can see on the tower in the center of the picture, about halfway up, a car-load of riders making their ascent.  I took this picture while waiting in line the second time we rode, and riding at night is even scariest than during the day.  It’s beautiful to see all the lights of the park, and surrounding Orange County, spread out before you, and get smaller and smaller as you rise above them – oh, and it’s also ridiculously terrifying, because you don’t know when you’re going to reach the top until you reach it, and you only hover at the top for about 2 or 3 seconds before Whoosh! You start falling, and your butt lifts off the seat, and your heart pounds even harder, and it feels like your stomach is somewhere near your neck.  My heart is racing just recalling the experience!

Here are a few other photos:

That’s Macrae on the left, then me, then Erik, then Aaron.  Erik and Aaron are my first cousins, and Macrae and Erik are married, so I suppose she’s my cousin-in-law?  I just call her my cousin too.  Behind us is Xcelerator, the park’s fastest coaster, which shoots you out of the station at 82 miles per hours and sends you straight up (and down) a 205-foot hill.

Here we are in front of the entrance of Montezooma’s Revenge:

This is a fun, quick coaster that shoots trains out of the station, through a loop, and up a hill, and then you go backwards down the hill and through the loop, and that’s about it.  But I loved that there’s a ride at a family-friendly theme park named after diarrhea.  Love it.  And for the record, none of us got the shits after riding it.

The waits at Knott’s weren’t that bad – I’d say we averaged 20-30 minutes per ride.  Our longest wait, which was probably close to an hour, was for one of the mildest coasters, Pony Express, which only lasts about 35 seconds, but it pretty unique in that instead of riding in a train, everyone rides their own horse.  Here’s me and Macrae on our horses before the ride started:

In case you’re wondering how I ate at a theme park, where funnel cakes, corn dogs and caramel corn await around every corner, I’ll tell you.  I ate breakfast before leaving the house (oatmeal, banana, apple), then, on the car drive down (which took about an hour), I munched, the entire time, on carrot and celery sticks – I wanted to bulk up on veggies, as I knew they’d be tough to find throughout the rest of the day.  For lunch, we stepped just outside the park and went to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Restaurant.  This restaurant opened in the ’30s, and was so popular that the theme park was built around it to keep diners occupied while they waited for hours to get a table.

My meal began with a salad and some rhubarb, which was served in a cherry syrup:

I ordered the rhubarb over the soup (which was cream-of-something, I forget) because I’ve only had it maybe twice before in my entire life, but the syrup was really sweet and it all tasted like it came from a can, so I only ate about three pieces of it.  The salad looked like it came from a bag, but I ate all of it, because it’s salad.  I ordered Italian dressing on the side, because our server identified it as being their low-cal dressing, but only used a little bit.  My main course was broiled chicken and potatoes:

I couldn’t tell what the sauce on the right was, but it looked like a flavored butter, so I didn’t touch it.  The chicken was fine, and I ate one of the potatoes, and all of the braised cabbage, which is in the bowl on the top corner.  Dessert came with our meals, and was the choice of three types of pie, but I passed.  My cousins all got pieces, but no one ate more than three or four bites (they weren’t that good), so I felt perfectly happy passing on dessert.

We stopped at a gas station leaving the park, and I picked up a bottle of water for the drive, and a banana, and I also ate 5 or 6 almonds that Macrae had brought, and a Gummi Bear that were being passed around the car, and then my dinner, when I got home, was leftover balsamic chicken, couscous, and quinoa from the other night.  I ate well.  At one point in the day I started craving kettle corn really badly, because the girls behind us in line were eating a giant bag of it, but once the ride was over and we got away from the girls, the craving went away.

Keep it up, David!

Lunch at Spago

February 21, 2011

Man, did I have a great meal the other day.  Delicious food, wonderful company – it was a really special time.

Way back last fall, I was able to do something really nice for my friend Felise, who I’ve met and become friends with because she’s also a regular at Slimmons, and ever since then she’s wanted to return the favor by taking me out to lunch.  Well, months and months went by, and no lunch, but we finally were both free a few days ago on Saturday, after one of Richard Simmons’ classes.  So Felise took me to Spago.  Spago, in Beverly Hills, is the flagship restaurant in the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group.  It won a James Beard award a few years back, and was one of three restaurants in Los Angeles to get 2 stars in the Michelin Guide in 2008.  It appears Felise doesn’t mess around when she wants to take someone to lunch!

Here’s me and Felise at our table.  It was a great table, tucked away in the corner, so we could see most of the main dining room:

Felise, who is also trying to eat healthily, had called ahead, and asked if they had reasonably healthy menu options, and the host told her that we could basically order any food that was on the menu, but have it cooked any way that we liked.  So we started looking over the menu, but had barely started when our server returned, removed the menus from our hands (politely) and said, “you’ll have time to look at these in a few minutes – we’re going to bring some things out from the kitchen.”

A few minutes later, the amuse-bouches started arriving.  An amuse-bouche is a one-bite appetizer, which literally means, in French, ‘mouth amuser’ – that much I knew from watching umpteen seasons of Top Chef.  The definition also includes (and I just read this online) that in fine dining situations, amuse-bouches are never ordered from menus, but instead sent out as a present from the chef to his patrons.  In total, they brought us 4 amuse-bouches, and, true to tradition, they were comped on our bill at the end of the meal.

First up, a tuna tartare in some sort of sesame cracker that was formed into a cone.  If you’ve never had tartare before, it’s raw meat (usually steak or fish) that’s blended with herbs and maybe a light sauce:

It was fantastic.  Then they brought out 2 more, in rapid succession:

On the left is smoked salmon, with a little salmon roe in the center, served on a blini (a little savory pancake) with creme fraiche.  On the right is ceviche, which is a cold soup made from raw fish or seafood that is cooked only in acid (typically, lime juice).  I forgot what kind of fish was in this ceviche, but it also had a little blood orange segment in it, too.

I can tell now that I’m going to run out of ways of saying how delicious everything was at Spago, so maybe I’ll just stop trying, and tell you now, and for the last time – it’s amazing.  Wonderfully attentive service, exquisite food – if you have the chance to go to Spago, don’t pass it up!

The last amuse-bouche was bacon confit with a bechemel sauce, wrapped in pastry:

Confit is a cooking technique (and a preservation technique) where meats are slowly cooked in salted fat, and bechemel is a white sauce.

Some of the items in these dishes were certainly things that I wouldn’t eat on a regular basis, but since everything was literally one bite, I didn’t worry about calories or fat.  Not at this meal!

We were finally picking up our menus and looking again, when Felise asked our server what she recommended that was lower in fat and calories, but still flavorful, and without skipping a beat, the server responded: “We have a fantastic red snapper with asian vegetables, and we can steam the fish, steam the vegetables, serve the miso/ginger/soy glaze on the side, and bring you some steamed brown rice.”  Sounds delicious to me!  We both ordered it.  And here it is (I forgot to photograph the rice, but you know what that looks like):

The vegetables included bok choy and lotus root, which I don’t think I’ve ever tried before, and I’m telling you, I could eat this every single day with no problems at all!  The fish was delicate and flaky, the vegetables tender.

Although our server suggested ordering a fresh berry plate for dessert, we were both full and decided to pass.

Thank you again, Felise, for a terrific lunch!

Keep it up, David!

What’s in the Crockpot? Part Three

February 20, 2011

I had my crockpot fired up at 9:30am yesterday.  What’s inside it, you ask?  That’s the point of today’s game!  So bone up by playing the previous installments (which you can find here and here), and get your thinking caps on, because it’s time to play!



Believe me, the dish is way more appetizing than it looks!  This recipe, like the Tuscan White Bean Spread I recently made, came from the Good Housekeeping Light & Healthy cookbook that I got as a Christmas present:

And, also like the Tuscan White Bean Spread, I modified the recipe.  I like modifying recipes.  The main change this time around was that I adapted the recipe from being made in a skillet on the stove to being made in the crockpot.  I knew I was going to have a busy day today, and being able to throw everything in one vessel and not worry about it was going to be a big help.

The other notable modification was the addition of this guy:

It’s the delicata squash I picked up at Whole Foods a few weeks ago!  I’ve never had delicata before, but since it’s not uncommon for squashes to be turned into sweet dishes (by roasting them with brown sugar and cinnamon, for example), I thought it would pair nicely with pears (homophones!), and so, at 9am yesterday morning, I started hacking it apart.  First, I cut it in half, lengthwise, and scooped out the seeds:

Here’s where I started LOVING delicata even though I hadn’t tasted it yet: the skin is super thin, so you don’t have to peel it!  At all!  Peeling squashes can be a pain, so skipping this step made me a happy camper.  I then cut each half into slices, and they all went into the crockpot:

Then I added chicken.  I added both chicken breasts and the chicken thighs that were such a great deal, and ended up with 7 pieces of chicken to put in the crockpot, which was perfect, because I was having my aunt, uncle, and cousins over for dinner, and there was going to be six of us:

Next was the pears – three Bosc pears, which I quartered, cored, and sliced:

Into the crockpot they went.

Finally, a sauce.  I whisked together 1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth, 5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of flour:

I poured that over the other ingredients, popped the lid on the crockpot, and turned it on Low.  It cooked for about 8 hours, at which point it looked like the picture near the beginning of the post.  Here it is, all plated up:

The chicken ended up really tender and juicy, and the thighs (there’s one on that plate) just fell off the bone.  The squash and pears ended up a little mushy, and most things that get crocked for 8 hours do, but all in all, it was a delicious dish, with both sweet and sour notes.  I definitely look forward to getting another delicata, and soon!

Here’s what else was on the plate:  Steamed green beans.  How to make them: get green beans, then steam them.  The third component is a couscous/quinoa blend.  I intended it to be all couscous, but I didn’t think I had enough to serve 6 people.  I’m also getting a little tired of couscous, so at the store, I picked up a bag of quinoa, which I had never cooked before, and I made the couscous and quinoa in separate pots on the stove, and when they were done, I mixed them together in a serving bowl.  The couscous was cooked in low-sodium chicken broth, and I added shallot.  The quinoa was cooked with saffron and garlic (just to switch it up, and because I didn’t have enough chicken broth to go around).

My family really enjoyed the meal, as did I, and even with the various components, it was really easy to put together, and really healthy, too!  You should give it a try.

Keep it up, David!

Listen To Me On The Radio!

February 19, 2011

Earlier this week, I had the honor to being a guest on a radio show!  It’s called Radio Therapy Online, and their mission is to “present fun, interactive, positive podcasts in a humorous way; to provide ‘therapy’ for broadcasters and listeners; to spread the passion for life.”  Todd Michaels, one of the host/producers, had seen me on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, begun following this very blog, and thought my story would be of interest to his listeners.  I was thrilled to be asked to participate, and ended up having a wonderful chat with Todd.  Now the show is finished and ready for your ears!

My interview is in the vicinity of 20-25 minutes.  Listen to it here.

It aired as part of Radio Therapy Online’s weekly 2-hour show.  Listen to the whole thing here. (It’s broken down into 2 parts.  Part 1 one of my interview starts about 34 minutes into Hour One, and Part 2 of my interview starts about 22 minutes into Hour Two.)

Thanks again, Todd, and everyone at Radio Therapy Online, for having me on your show!

To learn more about Radio Therapy Online, visit their website.  You can also follow them on Facebook and via their brand new Twitter feed.

Keep it up, David!