Wedding Bells

Dave and I have been what I call “casually engaged” for about 2 years. We had been dating for around 6 months when I proposed to him, while driving down the highway. Gee, we’re such romantics!

We’ve had plans to get married either this summer or next, in a park with catered food or a food cart, all of our friends and family there to gossip and laugh with. Insanely casual, just a party, really. An excuse to make our friends come visit us. But then my sister was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.

Fulbright Scholarships are awarded by the US State department, and you are given a grant to do research abroad. It’s a pretty big deal. Sarah will be looking at rural community development in Hungary for a year or so. She’ll get to take her husband and their two kids, and they’ll get to live abroad and traipse around Europe for a year. But there’s no way I can get married without my sister there.

So everything got switched around. We’re still going to get married this year, only it’ll be much smaller and sooner. We still really want to have a party, but we’ll do that next year, and call it a wedding celebration. This spring, on June 10, to be exact, we’re going to have a small wedding with just family and one friend, then go out to a nice dinner afterward. It sounds really great to me, not overwhelming or too stressful. My system gets over-stressed very easily, and then the fatigue and pain starts to hit. So keeping the stress level low is very important.

Mom’s been helping a lot, narrowing down restaurants that have private rooms to have a small party in. Dave and I went out and bought an amazing antique sapphire and diamond ring this last weekend. I just bought two summer dresses online, in the hopes that one will fit. No white frilly dresses here. They’re both dresses I can wear again, things that are festive without being glamorous. Sounds perfect. My cousin is going to be the one to marry us, which should be hilarious and awesome. I picture us all in a park, standing around for a 10 minute ceremony, then having champagne and appetizers before we head across town to a fabulous dinner somewhere. We’ll have some sort of cake, or maybe cake plus a custard based dessert for Dave, who loves custard almost as much as he loves me! It’ll be a big enough party to feel special, but still small enough that we’ll get to really have fun with everyone.

I’m really excited. I also love that in addition to being our wedding, it’s a sort of goodbye party for Sarah and her family. I don’t mind at all sharing the spotlight, and I love that she’ll get to see everyone before she goes.

So don’t mind me, I’m just over here making lists of what needs to be done. Things like:

  • Figure out what exactly we want the ceremony to be like.
  • Where should we hold the dinner? Picking out the entrees and food options
  • I’ve got the old (ring), new (dress), and blue (both dresses have blue), but I need a borrowed!
  • Should we get whatever restaurant to make a cake? Should we bring one in? Is it possible to combine cake with custard? Maybe we should do cake and banana cream pie.
  • We need to figure out what park and when, for the ceremony. Plus it’s early June, the weather can’t be relied upon. What if it’s pouring?
  • I have to get started on a wedding shawl! It’s a wonderful knitterly tradition to make a wedding shawl. I’m starting to look at patterns, but I’ll need to see the dresses and figure out what color shawl I want, and then furiously start knitting. I only have 6 weeks!

 

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Eureka!

Last time I remembered I had a blog, I was frustrated and miserable with the elimination diet, especially the “paleo” part. I realized quickly after that how much I hated the flavor of coconut in everything. Coconut oil and coconut flour are very common substitutions in cooking. However, I can taste that coconut flavor even when just a small amount is used. Coconut flavored steaks, coconut flour in muffins or whatever else. I quit the coconut, and basically quit the paleo aspect of the diet, and was significantly happier.

I kept eating gluten free and dairy free for a full 8 weeks. I’m incredibly proud of that accomplishment. I did discover that something I was eating caused stomach pain, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and brain fog. At the end of the eight weeks, I began to reintroduce foods.

Gluten came first. I’ve tried going gluten free in the past, and was nearly certain gluten wasn’t the issue. And it wasn’t. I’ve been eating bread now for weeks, with no issues. Hooray! That means a world of break, baked goods and general treats has returned!

Dairy is more interesting. I decided to break dairy into two groups: fermented, and non-fermented. Fermented dairy refers to things that have either been aged, or have active cultures added. The fermentation process, I think, breaks down the protein chains, and otherwise changes the structure of the dairy. Whatever it does, it means I can eat it with no problem. Hooray for cheese! And even more for sour cream! I was incredibly grateful for the ability to eat cheese.

In the past few weeks, I have eaten a bit of ice cream here or there. My stomach gets unhappy, but otherwise I’ve been fine. So yesterday, I had my first cup of coffee with lactose-free (thinking maybe lactose was the problem) half and half. Oh dear god.

Within about a half hour, my stomach hurt. Then it started making noises. I ran to the bathroom. And then the joint pain began. Every large joint in my body ached. I got a headache. My hands were shaking. I didn’t feel steady on my feet. I felt nauseous. My heart was pounding in my chest. It was horrifying. I felt like I’d eaten poison and my body was trying to get it out of my system. My nose was running like crazy. Every system was screaming. All from less than a tablespoon of half and half. I was furious with my body. Furious with myself that I’d been poisoning myself like this for such a long time.

So, lesson learned. But I’m not giving up. I started doing some research. So there are two primary proteins in dairy: whey and casein. Casein is hard to get rid of, so it’s fully present in cheese. So, since I can easily eat cheese, I don’t think casein is my problem. So time to focus on whey. Whey is pretty much taken out of cheese. When dairy starts to separate into curds and whey, the whey is discarded and the curds are used for cheesemaking. Yogurt and sour cream may still have whey, however, the addition of fermentation breaks the protein chains into shorter bits, for easier digestion.

I think I’ve solved it. I have a whey allergy. Eureka moment!

But I’m not done. I am still on a quest to put some sort of dairy in my coffee, dammit! I’m making divine soy lattes each morning, but I really want the pleasure of a plain, simple cup of coffee. So how can I get dairy without whey?

In my fridge right now are three odd things: kefir, buttermilk, and goat’s milk. Goat’s milk seems the most likely, as the proteins are just slightly different enough that it’s often more easily digested. Kefir and buttermilk are fermented (or cultured) dairy products. I took a sip of each, kefir tastes like liquid yogurt, and buttermilk tastes like liquid sour cream. I doubt either would be that great in coffee, but I’m going to try it anyway, probably with some sugar.

Last night in bed, Dave and I were talking about dairy, and realized that, when I ate ice cream, I didn’t feel fabulous, but I didn’t have this insane poisoning reaction. So what’s different about ice cream? Ice cream has both milk and cream, like half and half does. Ice cream, however (at least the good stuff), cooks the milk first. You make a custard from the milk and eggs, then turn that custard into ice cream. What if the cooking is changing the whey into something more digestible?

Whey is denatured (the proteins break apart) at around 172 degrees. What if the milk is heated to above that temperature, and maybe held at that temp, before freezing, to make ice cream? It would break down the whey. There’s some logic to that. I’m going to try heating and then cooling some milk to see if that helps.

But the weird part–all dairy is already heated and cooled during the pasteurization process. Ultra high temp pasteurization, which is the standard now, heats milk to well above the boiling point (212 degrees) for a short period. Wouldn’t that denature the whey? Maybe it needs to be held at that temp to denature? I have no idea. That was when Dave and I gave up trying to sort it out. My head was full of random facts about lactose, casein and whey.

I have some future experiments to try. However, I’m going to give my system about 4 days to get the half and half poison fully out of my system. I’ll be drinking lots of water and going easy on myself. Even today, a day after, my stomach is still upset, and my head feels foggy.

In the next few weeks, these are my experiments:

  • Does buttermilk upset my system? Is there a way to make it taste ok in coffee?
  • Does kefir upset my stomach? What about that in coffee?
  • Heat milk or cream to above 172 degrees, hold it at that temp for a few minutes, and then cool it. Does THAT upset my stomach? Does the texture of the dairy remain the same? What happens to whey that is denatured? If the texture and the taste remain mostly the same, does that taste ok in coffee?

My destination of course, is something to put in my coffee. I know, I’m obsessing a bit over this. But I’ve found work arounds for everything else that needs one. Cultured butter, which is what most of Europe uses, is readily available and tastes great. Lactose free sour cream is divine. I can eat everything else perfectly fine. It’s just liquid dairy. I’d like to find a way to consume liquid dairy so simple things like a bowl of Cheerios or a cup of coffee become normal.