Monday, 22 April 2013

A rollercoaster of a week

I don't know how much of this I've talked about this before, but here's a little bit of transition news. If you're not interested then just skip down, I have some food stuff further down.

A year ago my therapist and my consultant agreed that I could go for chest surgery, for a double mastectomy and chest reconstruction. The folks responsibility for funding decisions in my area decided that although I fully satisfied the international recommendations, and the recommendations of the specialist commissioning board, the primary care trust decided that I had to undergo two years "real life experience" (RLE). I'm not going to go into the arguments for and against RLE, but at the time that my clinic agreed that I was ready I was 10 months into my RLE and doing well. NOT having chest surgery has a very negative affect on my health. My mental health has just really gone down hill from the moment that I was told no. My physical health has suffered from the day I started binding full time. It affects my breathing, leaves not just red marks from where it most compresses and rubs, but white marks where the blood hasn't been able to flow into all my skin properly, I get headaches, a bad back and my posture is affected. However the way that work in the NHS is commissioned has changed from 1st April this year so the PCT is no more and I am no longer at their whim. I saw my therapist just over a week ago and rather scared him with how much hope I'd lost of ever getting any further progress with my transition. My depression has become quite bad, despite being paleo and despite being on medication. So he agreed that he'd do some research and chase up about my referral letter for me to try and get things moving along. In the mean time I had a consultation in London with a surgeon about lower surgery. Yeah seriously I've seen the surgeon about my lower surgery before I've seen a surgeon about my chest. No that's not normal but is in fact a sign of just how messed around I've been by the system. So that consultation was on Monday. I was really excited. Firstly at the thought of life after surgery and secondly because he'd given me more options than I was expecting, and an option that would likely to give me better results than I was expecting. So I was kind of riding that high all week, until I got home from work on friday. There was a letter from my therapist. It would seem that he's misunderstood which surgeon I had requested for my chest surgery and has now thrown me into turmoil because I'm second guessing my choice again, even though my choice was made months ago. So from a real high to a real low, all in the space of a week. And because it's such a failure as misunderstanding my choice of surgeon it's so messing with my head there's not space for much else, so I'm rather phasing in and out of what's going on around me at the moment. That said, I'm still working, I'm still trying to eat well, and I'm still exercising. I'm a bit practised at continuing my life through heart ache, depression and anxiety.

Back to Paleo and simple living stuff!!!

Always on the look out for ways to make my life simpler, and always on the look out for a bargain, when I walked round the supermarket this weekend picking up special offer veg I had a brainwave!

I picked up courgette, aubergines and tomatoes on special offer. Since tinned tomatoes, carrots and onions are all cheap anyway, I decided to cook up a big batch of sauce to provide veg for a few days. When I cook I don't like trying to multi-task so I chop everything up all at the same time and are displayed in the photos above. You also get to have a good nose at my kitchen. If you look carefully you can see the not more than 2 days old eggs, the local organic cider vinegar, and the latest batch of sauerkraut. You can also see the rice noodles, the sugar for my many cups of tea, and the fact I have too many chopping boards. 

Before I go, I thought I'd share one more picture with you. This one is of an bronze bowl from Iron Age Devon (I live in Devon) that is on display in the British Museum. 

It's probably ceremonial, but maybe it was used for cooking. It's a bit beautiful anyway. This is as a reminder that when we talk about people in the past, and how they did stuff, we're not talking about some hypothetical people but living, breathing people with hope and worries and concerns just like we have. They might have hoped and worried about different things, but we can't just reduce them to diet and exercise.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Sorry for my absence.

My computer decided that it didn't want to work. I've been using my housemate's laptop to do things like twitter and facebook and generally trying to keep up with the world, but sharing a computer in very limited time means I've had to neglect this blog. My computer still isn't fixed, but I do have a bit more time over the bank holiday so hopefully I will get this written and published for you before the end of the weekend.

My subtitle for this post is: Grab a Bargain When You See it.

A couple of weeks back I happened to pop into Waitrose to pick up some more milk (I buy Duchy Original milk because it's organic, non-homogenized and the 2 litre cartons seems to always be on offer). Since I was in there anyway I decided to look round for reductions on meat (there's little in my local Waitrose I can afford to buy that isn't on offer or reduced). I came across some lamb mince that worked out to about £4/kg. Yeah seriously. It was of those "I wish I liked lamb more than I do" moments. Thankfully my housemate likes lamb and I cook for both of us. Housemate is spending more time away for work at the moment so I grabbed some and took them home to cook.

The picture below shows the packaging and the meatballs ready to bake.

I decided to turn them into meat balls because these can then be eaten as snacks or refried or added to veg in a pot to make a kind of soup. I was inspired by Practical Paleo's spiced lamb meatballs. In with the minced lamb I added salt, pepper, cumin, and cinnamon (Diane's mix probably tastes better but I didn't have everything to hand, check out Practical Paleo if you want the proper recipe). I then baked, cooled and froze them. Housemate reports that they were filling and tasty and worked really well for wild camping.

These are the final product about to go into the freezer (or about a third of the final product anyway).

There is a small town near me that had a market on this weekend. It only runs three a year but it tries to make them big when they run. I looked through the list of people who were going to be there and saw a butcher and a fishmonger. I was sold. I like the chance to meet producers I don't already know and the chance to look for bargains. From the fishmonger I found less a bargain (so more of a treat) but more of a good thing. I bought proper cold smoked kippers. I also picked up a chicken and a kg of diced beef for £10. It's locally raised so it had a mixed diet (because we're just coming out of winter) but for £5/kg I'm not complaining. I also picked up some local honey and some local organic cider vinegar. The cider vinegar is local, organic, not pasteurized, unfiltered, so it basically ticks the boxes. And to top it all off, it's cheaper than aspall's stuff.

Here's a picture of some of the kippers atop mixed kale and beetroot fried up in butter. Left my kitchen stinking of fish for ages afterwards. Not to be eaten just before you're expecting vegetarian friends or family round. Please excuse the poor photo. Like always it was taken from my phone and frankly I was too hungry to faff around trying to take a better one.

Cucumbers were on offer at Lidls so later this week I will be making lovely chicken and cucumber.

This lovely long bank holiday weekend has also seen me be able to get out into my garden. Down here in Devon we managed some sunshine, and my garden is fairly sheltered, so wrapped up against the cold it's been fairly pleasant. I'm not sold that this will be the final position of my veg beds but in practical terms it probably will be simply because it allows them to catch what little sun comes into my garden. I still need to fix them properly into the ground and build something round them to keep the hens out though.

Due to a headache I spent much of sunday afternoon curled up on my bed surrounded by gardening books. I love my books but sometimes it really makes the point that I am working with very little space. I'll  never be self-sufficient on this plot of mine, but it will certainly give me space to experiment and keep me honest about only using methods that prove to be economic. My garden looks barren now but I still dream of a time that it will be lush and productive.

The lord Saxen even managed some sunbathing in this weekend's weather.