Thursday, March 17, 2011

Not All My Experiments Work Out.

It occurs to me that in posting successful and interesting recipes, I give a somewhat mistaken impression of my cooking. Not everything works.

Of course, I'm long past the early, foolish stage of throwing together something new and trying it out on people. Nope: when I want to try something different, I do it quietly, and consider the results for myself.

Case in point: I was just preparing some twice-cooked pork, and I really went the indulgent path, shallow-frying the already steamed, marinated, and seasoning-coated pork-belly pieces in vegetable oil. (Normally I'd stir fry them with veg. Or even grill them.)

There was a half-packet of Udon-style Japanese noodles on the countertop, left over from young barf-boy Jake's luncheon. (He had a tasty, easily digestible soup with a little thinly-slivered spiced beef and fresh vegetables as well as the noodles.) Seeing as how I still had a pot of hot oil after the pork came out, I figured I'd chuck in the Udon noodles and see what happened.

For those who may not know, Udon noodles are a relatively thick rice/wheat noodle which you can often find in Japanese soups and stews. They're a bit chewier than your usual rice stick, and actually, they're a big favourite around here. I wondered what would happen if I dropped 'em into oil hot enough to give 'em a crunchy outer surface.

The answer? Nothing good. By the time the outside goes crunchy, the middle has become very damned chewy indeed. I may consider trying this again with MUCH hotter oil, but for the meantime, the idea is: don't deepfry Udon noodles.

To which you might reply -- why the hell would I want to do that in the first place? And I'd have to say: I'm not sure. But you never know. Sometimes these odd experiments turn out very, very well indeed. Like making ice-cream with Mascarpone instead of cream, for example. That works brilliantly.

But not fried Udon noodles. Nope. Yuck.

Hmm. There Goes One Theory...

Turns out I'm not asthmatic.

At least, that's what the peak flow/spirometry test I did yesterday insists. As a matter of fact, the doc reading the results took one look and said my lungs were in remarkable shape. Apparently one one of the key indicators was at something like 120% of expected for my age and size, while the others were not far below 100%. And given that I've been rattling and coughing horribly for a month and a half, I guess being a little below 100% is kind of understood and assumed.

More to the point, there was no significant change after a dose of Ventolin.

So -- what's up with that? They treated me as an asthmatic as a kid, and it certainly seemed to work when I got wheezy. Then I did a lot of swimming in my teens, and I did some growing, and it went away.

I know I've got occasional allergies. I discovered just last spring that if I take something like Telfast once a day, suddenly all the night-time snot and sneezing goes away. That's pretty cool.

But this cough. Yeah.

You might remember that a few years ago, after a truly amazing bout of laryngitis, I lost the ability to produce that deep, chesty cough that is oh-so-necessary when you've got a good bout of lung lurgi. It just went away. I can cough, sure, but it's all up in the throat, not in the chest, which is annoying as all fuck.

I'm pretty healthy generally, despite the best efforts of my children, so I don't usually have chest problems when I get some kind of cold, and even here in Tas, I'm usually good for maybe one decent cold per year. Two in a bad year. But I admit it: I've been expecting to get something ugly, and hard to shift, purely because I can't cough like I should. Means all that crap rattling around down there doesn't really move the way you'd want it to, you see.

Right now, the Mau-Mau has a deep, rattly cough of which I am, frankly, quite jealous. Younger Son, meanwhile, has at least temporarily freed himself of any kind of cough at all, which is great since he's being treated as an asthmatic too. Elder Son Jake, who brought the whole goddam cough home with him from summer music camp, is over it completely, but is currently lying in his bed having barfed all over the place at school this morning.

And me? Comes and goes. I can exercise effectively again, which is good, but I'm definitely not up to par. And I tend to have wheezing fits at odd times -- wheezing fits which, despite the spirometric analysis, do seem to be somewhat improved with Ventolin.

Thus, on Monday, I shall be off to have my very first ever CAT scan. Wooowee! Technology! Yay!

It's going to be a busy day. I need to get my ID at the university, and grab a couple books from the library. I need to pick up a present for Jon Strugnell's upcoming wedding. I've also gotta get a Mantoux test to rule out Tuberculosis, of all things... gotta love this medical stuff, eh?

Meanwhile: looks like three extra kids staying over for the weekend. (Assuming Jake improves. Which he probably will. Wish I knew what was going on there, though... he never throws up.) Natalie's aiming for a bike ride on Saturday, and Younger Son is due to head into Launceston for another bass lesson.

It's all good, I guess. I've still got a little bit more time this year, even adding in the extra driving around for gymnastics, and the fact that I'm tutoring a youngster in the flute. Hopefully the writing will unroll in front of me nicely...