Chewing (and a recipe link)

Posted by | June 05, 2013 | Lifestyle, Recipe, Uncategorized | No Comments

I have a little Cannoli – she is a 6 month old Boston Terrier and she is a chewer. Anyone who has ever housebroken a puppy KNOWS that there will be chewing going on. They chew on everything. I am sure the Dog Whisperer could tell you the real reason why, but I think they chew just because it is fun and pleasurable. All I know is that in an effort to protect my belongings I have at least a dozen doggie toys laying around the house. If you come over and aren’t careful, you could trip and break a hip – you have been given fair warning.

This is Cannoli at 4 months. Did you notice that the white mark on her forehead looks like a knife?

As someone who loves food, loves cooking, works in the culinary arena and writes about food, I can imagine three things that would really put a damper on my life in food:
1. Loss of smell – think about when you have a really bad cold. NOTHING tastes right because after seeing how beautiful the food looks, your pleasure and enjoyment of food increases with the smell of whatever is going into your mouth.
2. Loss of taste buds. No explanation necessary
3. Loss of ability to chew, or pain when chewing.

While number three may be a great way to lose weight (just ask friend Laurie who had to have her jaw wired shut after she broke her jaw), the simple act of mastication makes me feel good. I love chewy candies, peppermint gum and toothsome food. Unfortunately for me, I have TMJ. Yes, really. In 1986 I dislocated my jaw, and since then it acts up from time to time and causes me pain when I bite anything or open my mouth too wide (like yawning or taking a bite of a burger or sandwish). Currently, I am in so much pain that eating pasta is a challenge. Choosing to avoid pain, instead of plowing through and chewing anyway is certainly changing what, how much and how often I eat. Drinking through a straw is painful, smoking is a challenge (don’t judge) and foods I love are now my enemies. Maybe this is a weight loss and health plan after all?

So yesterday I went to the doc and he said “soft foods only” until this straightens itself out. And he prescribed a new med that makes me freaking loopy as hell. Soft foods? Oatmeal, fruit smoothies, soup, scrambled eggs, mac & cheese, ice cream. Doesn’t sound all that bad, right? But what about fried chicken, burgers, cookies, sandwishes, bacon and mixed nuts? Last night we went to Culinary Dropout to a viewing party for friend Christian Dolias’ performance on Chopped (unfortunately he didn’t win and was “chopped” early). I love the pretzels and provolone fondue there and normally dig into it with gusto. Yeah. That didn’t happen last night. I had to tear the pretzels into tiny pieces and chew VERY carefully. And my entrée? I ate less than half of my stroganoff and gave the rest to Jack. The housemade noodles were delish, but the beef was nearly impossible for me to enjoy. Maybe I will lose a few pounds with this out of whack jaw sitch! More importantly, we all had a great time cheering Christian on and socializing.

The Cutthroat Culinary Black & White Knife Club boyz (L to R – Crockett, Jesse Moreno and Christian Dolias) with Rick Moonen and Al Mancini

Al Mancini with son Jack

And remember I have to cook for my family. They can’t/won’t be satisfied with a soft food diet. What to do? FML! Well, in an effort to make something we ALL can eat and we will all enjoy, tonight I am making pho and I will worry about tomorrow when I get there. This is the recipe I use. It is pretty easy and it is from Food & Wine mag from back in 2005. Maybe later this week, braised beef shanks and polenta?

I am hoping I will go to sleep one night and wake up magically healed and able to eat whatever I please. Until then I will continue drinking my beer, taking the loopy pain meds and eating soft food. Maybe even losing a little weight in the process. I know, you feel sorry for me.