Alamo Drafthouse: Off-Center Beer Festival: Blazing Saddles

Ok, so I don’t know how much cooler this could get. Awesome craft breweries from around Texas and getting my picture taken with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery and then watching Blazing Saddles on a wonderful Thursday night with a cap gun to shoot at the screen.

First up, lets talk about the beers.  (512) Brewing brought an amazing Pecan Porter with toasted coconut, died cherries, and Mexican Vanilla; I had four 6 0z. glasses of the stuff.  The other breweries that were there there all had beers that were very, very good, but not as stand out as the (512) Pecan Porter.

Jester King brought a new beer, Beer Geek Rodeo, which is an oatmeal stout brewed in collaboration with Mikkeller (a Danish brewery).  I’ll be picking up a few bottles of Beer Geek Rodeo when it finally hits the store shelves.

Thirsty Planet also came through with a nice smoked coffee Belgian Dubble called Jittery Monk.  It was very smooth and had a good coffee flavor.  As the person working the tap said, this is more beer than coffee and he was right.  I just wish Thirsty Planet would figure out a way to get all these weird experimental beers out to the public because I’m not a total fan of Buckethead and Yellow Armadillo Wheat.  Where is Smokey the Beer and Jittery Monk Smoked Coffee Dubble on tap?  They’re better, more interesting tasting beers, in my opinion.

The only beer that I can say that I really disliked, but really wanted to like was the Twisted X Fuego.  Any beer that has been infused with Jalepeno has to be awesome, right?  Unfortunately, it didn’t have any of that jalepeno twinge or heat that I was expecting.  It tasted a little skunky and barely tingled the back of my throat at the very end for a few seconds.

My only complaint with the beer vendors is that Dogfishhead only brought Indian Brown Ale; I was hoping they could find it in their hearts to grace us with some wonderful 120 minute IPA or another concoction that is hard to find in Texas.  But, I guess they had to save all the interesting beers for the Once Upon A Time in the West feast at Alamo South Lamar.  Oh well, I suppose I need to get myself a trip up to the north east United States again.

The movie, of course, was awesome, and it was made even better by the fact that it was a quote-along.  Not that I needed the quotes scrolling across the bottom of the screen to yell out the lines (yes, I’ve seen it that many times).  As a side note, the food was quite tasty as well, although I have an issue with what they called a torta.  It should have been called a cheesesteak (but I’m not gonna nitpick on a day like this.  I’m just glad there are companies that can still put on a kick-ass mini-beer fest and movie without messing everything up).

Juicing for health

A few months ago I watched the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead on Netflix (yes, I restarted my Netflix account after not having it for a while) and after watching it got really interested in juicing.  Being the type of person I am, I did some quick web searching to see what people were saying about it.  Most people seem to think it’ll do everything: make you faster, better, more awesome, prevent and cure cancer, reduce the onset of old age, and generally save the world.  I however, don’t feel this way.  I think it is a great way to get all the fruits and veggies I need for the day in a single easy to drink glass.

I started reading up on juicers and picked one that wasn’t too expensive so if I found out that I disliked juicing it wasn’t like I was out a load of money.  I ended up buying a Cuisinart CJE-1000 from the local Fry’s and after pulling it all apart and learning how it works, it was off to the grocery store.  At the grocery store, I grabbed all the typical fruits and vegetables people juice: kale, cucumbers, carrots, celery, apples, and blueberries.  As a side note, if I had realized how much I was going to be juicing, I’d probably purchase an Omega 8003 juicer; but for now, I’m good with the CJE-1000.

My initial juice was a lot of fruit and a few veggies.  It was significantly sweeter than I expected and it hid all the flavors of the veggies.  However, the more I juiced the more I removed the amount of fruit I was juicing and added more vegetables into the mixture.  Within a few days I was juicing all vegetables and a single apple.  Now my go to juice is: kale, cucumber, celery, carrot, and apple.  Based on what I’ve heard from other people who have begun juicing, this is how it seems to go: you start out with something significantly sweeter then slowly remove the sweet stuff from the mix.   It also gives a weird energized feeling after drinking the juice which I think is the fact that my body is getting all the vitamins and whatnot right away instead of digesting all the fiber, etc. that is normally associated with the fruits and vegetables.  In the end, juicing also doesn’t make me feel as bad when I eat lunch at work and don’t eat the healthiest meal that I could (I tend to do low carb to no carb for lunch).

Of course, I also need to mention that lunch is now the only meal that I really eat out anymore.  I’ve been cooking and making breakfast at home and taking it to work so I can eat breakfast when I’m actually hungry (I get into work really early) and drinking juice for dinner.

I’ve been juicing at least one meal a day for about two weeks and while I can’t say that it is curing cancer or whatever else, I do think it is filling a void in my eating habits since I’m now at least getting all of my vegetable and fruit servings in a single drink each day.  If you haven’t thought about trying it, I say give it a shot, you don’t have to go all in and drink fresh vegetable juice for all meals for 60 days like in Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  Just use it once a day as a meal replacement and start working on eating healthier on all your other meals.  I can say it’s helped me a lot, especially combined with working out, it does do a great job.

Another round of random musings about Type I Diabetes

I really have no clear thought as to what I’m going to talk about, just random things with Type I Diabetes.

Alcohol.  They say if you’re a type 1 you shouldn’t drink it at all.  However, if you receive ‘Diabetes Forecast’ (the ADA magazine for diabetics) you’ll see in the latest issue there is a large article on drinking wine and the benefits of drinking a glass of wine a day.  So, what are you supposed to do?  Follow your doctor’s orders and not drink it at all or drink a glass of wine a day?  Well, the truth of the matter is, you can drink it.  You just have to be more careful since alcohol affects your blood sugar.  You’ve got to learn how it affects its and what you can do to counteract any of the issues you may see.  The best book I’ve seen on how to handle alcohol as a T1D is ‘How to Think Like a Pancreas.’  Sure the title sounds stupid, but it is one of the best books you can buy on how to live a normal life with T1D.

The OmniPod insulin pump.  I’ve got one of these and there are days I think it is the most wonderful device ever made and there are days I curse Insulet Corporation and all their engineers.  Recently (end of last month), I had 3 out of my 10 last pods die and it left me without any pods for a few days.  Luckily I still had a Lantus pen sitting in the fridge from when I was not using the OmniPod.

Calling up Insulet to report all the pods dying just gets annoying and on certain days I just get so pissed off I just chunk the pod into the garbage and don’t call Insulet cause I couldn’t stand talking to people with how angry it makes me the pods die.  I understand it’s a relatively new technology, but looking back over the time that I’ve used the OmniPod the amount of pods I’ve had to toss has been a lot higher than I would have liked.  A single pod every few months wouldn’t be that bad, but I’m seeing myself have around one pod a month fail during priming.  Which really sucks because at that point you really can’t pull out all of the insulin you put into the pod.  So you’re out a pod and some insulin at the same time.  Which, the insulin brings me into my next issue…

Insurance companies.  I think they’re made to kill Type I Diabetics either through bleeding us dry or not giving us the support we pay for.  It’s the whole reason I think insurance companies should never be a for-profit venture — they aren’t out to help people, they’re out to make money.  We’re just a number and a revenue stream to them.  God forbid you have an actual issue, they fight tooth and nail to prevent you from having it.  Maybe one day I’ll have to enumerate my dislike of my current insurance company; today just isn’t that day.

Bouncing back to things not insurance related and back to the whole blood-sugar management bit.  If you don’t already know, as a T1D you have two choices (well, three if you count doing nothing) to manage your blood sugar: multiple insulin types or the insulin pump.  The  multiple insulin types is what I was doing for a while.  It consisted of two insulins and using one to control my basal (or baseline insulin) and bolus (or mealtime insulin).  Normally it is done using Lantus (for basal) and Humalog (for bolus), these can be different, but these are what I used.  I didn’t mind using them, just carrying around insulin pens and the testing kit got to be a drag.  This led to my wanting to be on the insulin pump (and the fact I had a reaction to Lantus) I chose the OmniPod after examining all the other pumps since there was no tube and I only had to carry a testing kit.  Now, to the point I was getting to.

Whether you use the pump or pens, you have to constantly adjust your rates when you notice things are not the same.  It is even suggested you recalculate all your rates every six months regardless.  However, recently I’ve been noticing that my pre-meal, after-meal, and pre-bedtime blood sugar values are a lot higher than I would like.  So I’ve been making changes to my basal rates on my insulin pump hoping that these slight changes will fix it for me.  However, it isn’t looking like that is the case, so I need to run through the full testing (which is not fun since it requires skipping meals).

Finally, exercise.  This is the most important thing any diabetic can do to help themselves.  And sadly, I’ve been falling down on the job lately.  Work and school seem to take priority and I just haven’t carved out the time to work out like I should.  I don’t think this is a cause for my needing more insulin (I think it is related to the fact I’ve really come off the honeymoon phase for real and I’m now a brittle diabetic); but at the same time, working out does much more help than harm in the long run so I should be exercising.  I’m hoping that this week I’ll finally get back onto my workout routine and start making up for the few months that I’ve fallen down on the job because riding my bike 30 minutes or so a day isn’t going to cut it.

Those random fortune cookie fortunes…

I love Szechuan-style Chinese food and there is this great place not too far from my home that has some of the best I’ve had in the Austin area.  However, that is beside the point, the point of this post is to talk about those not-so-Chinese fortune cookies with the supposed fortunes in them.  I’ve taken to keeping the ones that just seem really funny for some reason or another.  Or for some reason I make a connection with the saying because of something happening in my life.  It’s funny how we create connections between two or more completely unrelated events.

Some of the favorite “fortunes” I’ve gotten:

  • Be prepared to accept a wondrous opportunity in the days ahead! — this happened a few days before I accepted a position at the company I am now employed by.
  • Give a hug to someone who needs one more than you. — I just like the philosophy of this one.  The whole Golden Rule bit.
  • Good things are being said about you — A follow on to the previous one, I’m sure.
  • Your blessing is no more than being safe and sound for the whole lifetime. — Very Zen
  • Don’t be discourage, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward — a good life lesson
  • An alien of some sort will be appearing to you shortly! — not really a fortune or a saying or anything, just random.

Yeah, this post was pointless and rather meandering, but it is the journey; not the destination that matters. 🙂

My French Dinner

I picked up a new cookbook last weekend called “Around My French Table” and decided that this weekend I was going to cook a full dinner on Sunday consisting of an appetizer, a soup, a main dish (with sides) and a dessert (and all served with wine of course).  Digging through the book I picked four dishes that sounded like they’d go well together and began gathering the ingredients and kitchen cookware that I needed for them.

For an appetizer I chose gougeres (a cheese-popover type biscuit); for the soup, French Onion Soup (original, I know :)); for the main dish, a chicken cooked with veggies in a bath of brandy; and for dessert, creme brulee. For the soup and the main course, I drank a 2007 white wine (I’ll have to look it up) and with the creme brulee, I drank a nice dessert wine (which I also need to look up).  But, back onto the cooking and baking.. I have never seen the need for having a double oven until now.  The amount of time spent cooking and waiting could have been reduced by half if I could have had two ovens going at the same time.  As it was, I spent seven hours cooking everything from scratch (not that I’m complaining, it was a lot of fun, with the exception of the gougeres).

As I said in the previous paragraph I enjoyed cooking the food because it almost all involved some sort of alcohol.  So I could take a sip of wine or brandy and then the food could have a sip.  The French Onion Soup had a nice bit of wine in it, then when you served it, you put in a tablespoon of brandy into each dish before serving it extremely hot with the cheese overflowing bread.  The only issue I had was I didn’t stir the dough of the gougeres enough so they didn’t pop-up exactly as I had hoped — they still tasted great, just next time I know to keep stirring the tough until it is really, really dry.

Taste wise, everything tasted great, I knew the creme brulee would since I’ve made it multiple times and it is kind of hard to screw it up.  On the French Onion Soup I had to be careful on how much brandy I put into the soup before serving it.  Some people might not be able to handle the strong brandy flavor.  The chicken dish was excellent and had wonderful herbs and spices as well as tasty vegetables as well.  Overall, I felt the dinner was success and everything tasted correct and the presentation for the most part was spot on — with the exception of the gougeres (which I now know how to fix).  I know I’ll be digging into this cookbook for some more recipes in the near future.

Types of Fats and Their Effect on Blood Lipids

I know I had posted this before I managed to destroy my website doing an upgrade (a long time ago, like before dirt in Internet time), but I know this is something that is worth knowing.

  • Cholesterol
    • Raises total blood cholesterol
  • Saturated Fats
    • Raises total cholesterol
    • Raises LDL cholesterol
    • Raises Triglycerides
  • Trans Fats
    • Raises total cholesterol
    • Raises LDL cholesterol
    • Raises Triglycerides
    • Raises HDL cholesterol
  • Polyunsaturated Fats
    • Reduces total cholesterol
    • Reduces LDL cholesterol
    • Reduces HDL cholesterol
  • Monounsaturated Fats
    • Reduces total cholesterol
    • Reduces LDL cholesterol
    • Reduces triglycerides when used in place of saturated fasts or carbohydrates
    • No lowering effect on HDL cholesterol
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    • Reduces total cholesterol
    • Reduces LDL cholesterol
    • Reduces triglycerides
    • Decreases clot formation
    • May protect against cardiac arrhythmias