Tits Off for Harambe! (or Hey, I got a breast reduction.)

Originally published at Soapturtle.net. Please leave any comments there.

So, I had a breast reduction on January 24th, and these are my observations/reflections/thoughts. I’m going to talk about the surgery first, and then at the bottom, I’ll have my thoughts on it as well as the reasons behind it. I’ve done it this way so people looking for information on having this done can find it quickly and easily, and people who just want my thoughts and not the details of the thing can just skip down to that. (This is much like my tonsil removal post, so if you didn’t find that entertaining in any way, you probably want to skip this one too.)

My pre-surgery research references:
I combed through the internet for the sane blog posts and articles from people who have had the surgery. I paid a lot of attention to sections that said “things I wish I had known before hand” and that helped a great deal in preparedness and expectations. To all those people, especially ones who posted photos of before, and after, Thank you. I will not be posting photos at this time, however a few years down the road, I can see adding some time lapse back in to this post, as the photos I found the most helpful covered a span of years.

Some of the links I found and used as my research:

Pre-surgery prep recommendations:
1. Ask the doc for more than one post-surgical bra if you are required to wear one. If you have a second one, you can wash one while you are wearing the second, and just keep a rotation going. This is preferred.

2. Go ahead and have bandages/guaze and surgical tape on hand ahead of time. You’re going to need them. Maybe not right away, but you will need them. The best ones I’ve found to use also happened to be the most affordable ones I’ve found. You can get them here. Get at least two boxes when placing an order and even with paying shipping it’s still cheaper than the pharmacy/drug store. I ended up doing bandages on my incisions for 7 weeks afterwards and went through 3 boxes of these bandages. We put the leftovers in our first aid kit. I don’t have a tape recommedation other than find one that doesn’t make you itch or irritate your skin. I originally purchased Nexcare tape because their bandaid generally work for me quite well. Their tape made me itch, so on my second Jeffer’s order, I picked up some of theirs, and that worked better.

3. Get your prescription filled ahead of time and have it near where you will be recovering so it doesn’t have to be filled or located after surgery. You’ll thank me for this. You’re welcome in advance.

4. Take a pillow for padding between you and the seatbelt for the trip home. I live less than 5 miles from the hospital, so it wasn’t a huge ordeal for me, but if you have to drive for a longer amount of time, you’ll want the pillow for sure.

Actual Surgery related notes:

    1. The marks they make on your body for the reduction are a lot like a Tailor’s marks for corset contstruction. I found this an interesting correlation. Afterwards, it was amazing to me to see how far down my stomach the marks went because the new smaller boobs were so much higher.</p>

    2. Standing Prep. I was awake in the OR. I stood up on some paper, naked as hell, and got swabbed down with cold cold iodine. Then shuffled over to the table, and got up on it and laid down so that I was placed exactly how the surgeon wanted me to be, then they knocked me out and proceeded. I’m not an exibitionist so this was a little awkward, but I quickly got over it because I was going to be unconcious with these people anyway, so it’s not like they weren’t going to see me at my worst as it was. And honestly, I don’t much care if someone went home and said “OMG this fat lady got surgery today and I saw her naked before hand” because if that’s the highlight of their day, they have other problems.

    3. Catheter. It turns out they give you one because of the amount of time you are under. Plan accordingly. The nurse I was talking to about this unexpected bonus said the same thing happened to her for her C-section. You may not care, but you might, so you plan accordingly if you do.

    4. Sleeping arrangements. Recliner recommended and if you don’t have one, you need a lot of pillows. Sleeping sitting up more than lying down is needed for proper drainage, at least the first few days. After that drainage slows down or stops and it’s not as big a deal but you can’t really sleep on your sides yet either so I slept in the recliner for almost a month afterwards until I got the all clear to sleep on my side some because if I had slept in bed, I would defintely have tried to sleep on my side.

    5. Speaking of drainage, Shmoo’s entry for this list is that “Drainage” means blood. So when they tell the person giving you after care there will be drainage and to change the pads as needed, they mean blood.

Recovery related notes:

    1. Your boobs are going to look like a train wreck right after surgery. Healing takes time. Don’t panic.

    2. One side hurts more than the other, and from the start I’ve had more mobility in the less painful arm (my right). The side that hurts less and has more mobility seems to be draining more, but I have no evidence or subject matter expertise to support that’s the difference.

    3. Speaking of sides… the sides of your body will heal at different speeds. No shit. My doc says this happens with facial reconstructions and such as well, even when it’s an incision going across the mid-line of the body, each side will heal at a different speed. In my case, my right side healed faster.

    4. Everything is really tight right now. My skin especially. Gravity appears to not be a thing for my boobs. From everything I’ve read, it will take some time for them to “settle” and look less like little square shaped skin sacks and back to more natural boob shape. And by time, I mean months.

    5. Do not buy bras in advance. You don’t actually know what size you will end up being until all the swelling has gone down and some healing has happened. Surgical bras should be worn at least 2 weeks if you need one (I was told a sports bra would have been more than enough, but I also got lipo under my arms to get rid of the sideboob that would have been left behind otherwise). I’ve been told and read that the longer you wear the surgical bras (1 to 4 months) the better your boobs end up looking. Also, underwire bras are out for a bit for sure. That wire would be right on a seam/scar. Some people can’t wear an underwire bra up to a year afterwards. As it currently stands, I may never wear one. My incisions feel like I am wearing underwires all the time right now. Additional pressure on those scars as they keep healing would be super painful and likely make me nuts.

    5. If you are prescribed Opiods for pain for after surgery, go ahead and get some Correctol or Seneca etc. You’re going to need it as long as you are on the Opiods. You won’t notice you need it for about 2-3 days, and then you’ll suddenly need it a lot. It turns out, the cells in your lower intestine/bowels respond the same way the cells in your brain do to Opiods. So your body says, “hey, shouldn’t you be working?” and the cells say “nope! we’re good”, and that keeps going until the body says “HEY! YOU NEED TO POOP NOW! NOOOOOOW.” and the cells are all “Nope! it’s all good.” But it’s not. It’s really not.

    6. Your nerves have to remap and regrow. This causes a lot of really wierd sensations. Not a damn one of the stories I read in preparation for surgery mentioned this. So let me say it as loud as I can. IT IS GOING TO BE WEIRD FOR YOU WHEN YOUR NERVES ARE ADJUSTING TO YOUR NEW BOOBS. One nipple is super sensitive and any time anyone comes near it and like.. you know, walks into the room, it twitches and gets hard. The other nipple has no feeling at all directly in the center, but the areola around it has feeling. The skin on my boobs is constantly having odd sensations. Sometimes there are itches in places that just don’t exist anymore because my brain can’t interpret where the signal is coming from correctly yet. Sometimes my brain tells me the nipple that has no feeling is desperately itchy. It’s not, it has no feeling, and there is no way to communicate this back to my brain in a way that makes the itchiness go away. My chest often feels like it has a massive fever in the areas affected by the surgery. It’s not hot to the touch, but the the skin has this buzzing burning sensation to it and it’s super super senstive. It’s like when you are coming down with the flu and even the hairs on your head hurt and the breeze from someone walking by you irritates your skin. That is how it feels, for hours at a time, and this goes on for weeks. NO ONE MENTIONED THIS!!! It’s not like this would have been a deal breaker for me, but it would have been nice to know in advance.

    7. You will very likely reject some of your internal stitches. It seems to be pretty common with this surgery. The internal stitches are supposed to dissolve and be absorbed into the body. But! If air touches them, it allows bacteria to find them. Bacteria really like the material the stitches are made with, so they are attracted do it, and then it hangs out there. Your body wants nothing to do with this, and proceeds to evict that shit from your body, as it should. This means your incisions take longer to heal, because your body isn’t trying to close off an incision when it’s trying to kick something out of that location. Once the stitch gets to a point it has been evicted (or removed by your doc, or possibly you in between visits) it’ll proceed with closing up the that lingering incision site. At 5 weeks post surgery, I still had open incision locations where I was rejecting stitches, and was still doing wet to dry bandages twice a day until the incisions closed over (at around 7 weeks out).

Mental/Emotional observation type notes:

    1. I was an H cup. I am now a large C/small D cup. (Not sure which yet, because I’m still in post-surgical bras and sports bras, and will be for a while.) I am totally satisfied with the change. I told the Doc I wanted a C or smaller, and he did his best. It turns out you have to keep enough breast to keep the nipple viable or it dies or something to that effect, but he was able to take more off than he originally thought, and I was pretty happy about that.

    2. Suddenly having a much smaller breasts is a bit of a mind-fuck. Your body perceptions and what you think/feel about yourself changes. I am still the same person I was, but now I am not weighed down by what society has taught me about women with large breasts. I’m getting a lot more eye contact from men, and I’m no longer an obvious “easy” sexual target. I’m just me, and that’s pretty fucking awesome. You don’t realize the day to day crap you put up with until it’s suddenly just not there anymore.

    2. My body profile is less balanced. My stomach is more obvious. Not that it wasn’t obvious before, because hey, I am fat and you could all see that, but it’s more obvious to me now because I don’t have ginormous boobs sitting on top of it. I am OK with that. Honestly, I feel like a kid again. My boobs haven’t been this size since around 7th grade. You know how you felt super free as a kid in the summertime running around in sprinkler in your underwear? That’s a lot what I felt like in my first shower after surgery. I know visually I have boobs, and I can feel them and see that they are there, but they are so much smaller and so much less in the way I feel like they aren’t there and it’s AMAZING.

    3. Healing takes time. Everything I read made it seem like after a few days I’d be chomping at the bit to be moving again and after the 2 weeks, it’d all be back to normal. It wasn’t. Maybe it’s because I am 42 instead of 22. Maybe it’s the amount of tissue I had removed. Or maybe it’s because I have RA and healing is always slower for me. But from everything my doctor has said, I am progressing normally. So anyone who says it’s not big deal, tell them to suck it ’cause they lie. It has taken 7.5 weeks for me to recover “fully” from this surgery. By fully I mean, I can lift my arms over my head again easily and without pain (though it still pulls a little). I can lift more than 10lbs. I have been cleared to exercise and swim again. I can wear (sports/sleep) bras that aren’t my post surgical bras, without discomfort. I don’t think “damn, my boobs hurt” 100 times a day from nerve pains or incision irritations. I don’t need to wear bandages and replace them twice a day. Sleeping in the bed as opposed to the recliner doesn’t make me uncomfortable.

    That’s not to say there aren’t still some things that are quirky, but mostly, life is normal. The doctor’s office doesn’t even take the post surgery pictures until 3 months after, so if you really wanted a time frame for full recovery, that’s likely it.

If I had to do it over again, would I? Yes. In a heartbeat. If you live near me and want the doctor’s name, hit me up. He’s not internet saavy, so don’t expect a lot of fancy tech anything. But since I was paying him to fix my boobs, and not to internet all the things, I am just fine with that. He’s good at what he does; he’s honest and up front with you even if you don’t like what he’s got to say. He worked well with both me and shmoo, and that’s a pretty high standard from any angle.

Plated Week 10

Originally published at Soapturtle.net. Please leave any comments there.

This week was good. We enjoyed both dishes and I can see making our own versions of them at a later date.

Peanut Noodles with Bok Choy and Miso-Glazed Eggplant
This was tasty. Shmoo generally avoids miso, but was really happy with how it worked in this dish. I don’t think I’ve had a peanut-ginger flavored sauce before and I quite liked it, and the miso glaze on the eggplant helped it out quite a bit. The noodle sent was linguine again, which we still find odd for asian flavored dishes but for the most part I guess noodles are noodles. The egg plant did it’s job. It was the meat substitue of the dish, and that was fine. I would have honestly preferred some extra-firm tofu instead. Cubed and put in the miso-mirin glaze to marinate, possible overnight, would have been divine. Chicken would have also been good, but we both feel like the point of the vegetarian dishes is to be tasty and vegetarian, so we both sided on tofu as an eggplant replacement for this one.

Seared Steak with Bell Pepper Panzanella
Shmoo loves bell peppers so his statement about this one was “It was really good, I loved the panzanella and steak is always great!” This was the first time for both of us eating panzanella, and my first time eating an arugala based salad. I’ve been avoiding it ever since having an escarole salad a few years back that was supposed to be super tasty (shmoo did like it) but was way too bitter for me. Everyone says escarole is “spicy” but all I got was a mouth full of bitter. And I digress! Arugala was good. We’d do this one again for sure. I do think I’d do this as one dish though, instead of a salad and a meat I’d just put the meat in the dish (likely chicken that had been marinated in something, and then cubed about the same size as the bread) and call it done. When there are enough diverse flavors and textures in a dish, I don’t see much of a point in having the protein be on the side unless you really want a particular one, like say, steak, shrimp, lobster, etc.

We should have another desserts post soon, as shmoo is in the kitchen right now catching up on those.

Plated Week 9

Originally published at Soapturtle.net. Please leave any comments there.

This week we liked both of the meals, and both of them had meat in them, which is a bit different for us because we try to get a vegetarian meal for at least one of the dishes. There were some great things about both dishes and some things we’d change.

Beef Lo Mein with Snow Peas and Scallions
The flavors in this one were awesome, and I feel I could easily make it again on my own when we are craving chinese takeout. The one miss for both of us was that the dish used linguini noodles instead of egg noodles of some sort. Last week we had a dish that had long life noodles in it. I think that if this dish had used that type of noodle, it would have been the best dish we’d gotten thus far. So yeah the noodles were a bit off, but the rest of it, YUM.

Green Chile Chicken Tacos with Mexican Street Corn
So, let’s start with the street corn here. Meh. It was basically cooked like the Italian Street Corn in an earlier dish we’d gotten so I think they just do a pan cooked corn with mayo and cheese and call it street corn of whatever nationality the main part of the dish is. I find this both sneaky/deceptive and pretty darned clever. For this one, they had subbed the cohita cheese with queso and it used less mayo than the italian version so it wasn’t as creamy, and shmoo noticed. I didn’t really much care either way. It was pan cooked corn with some stuff in it. It’s good in that hey, it’s corn and it’s been sorta toasted, but it’s not stellar.
The Green Chile Chicken Tacos part of the dish, that was damn good. We do tacos a lot, so any variations I can learn to add to our repertoire for taco eats is something I am down with. These were bright and tasty and had a slow heat build. By the time you got done, your mouth was on fire, but it wasn’t overwhelming right off the bat. We are totally going to make these on our own. The one issue we had with this dish was that they sent 5 corn tortillas instead of 6, but we had flour tortillas on hand, so I just used one of those. I personally really liked the flour tortilla better. This is no surprise, I generally prefer them over corn tortillas, but the corn tortillas were just falling apart while I was eating them so I found that annoying and the flour one stayed together. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’d have a preference for this dish, the tacos were good as they were.

Plated week 8

Originally published at Soapturtle.net. Please leave any comments there.

Moo Shu Chicken with Pancakes
So, this dish had a lot of mushrooms, and I don’t like mushrooms, but expanding borders etcetera. For me it was OK. It wasn’t the worse mushroom dish I’d ever had, and as far as they go it was pretty darn good, but man, SO. MANY. MUSHROOMS. Shmoo liked it though. Thought it was really tasty.

Szechuan Lamb Noodles with Bok Choy
Delicious! I don’t think we’d change a thing. We definitely want to try to make this one on our own. If we can’t find ground lamb, we’ll probably try bison, but the lamb-ground beef mix was really perfect for this. The lamb added so much flavor but the ground beef kept it from being over-powering. This was tasty, and relatively quick and easy. I don’t think we’ve liked an entire dish this much since the first one we tried (vegetarian buritos back in plated week 1).

Mammogrammatical Error

Originally published at Soapturtle.net. Please leave any comments there.

So, about a month ago, I had a breast reduction. There will be a post about it in the future, much like my “I am a grown ass woman and I got my tonsil out” post, but this, this is not that post.

This post is about the Mammograms I had to have done before hand.

The Events!
So around 40, a woman is supposed to and get her baseline Mammogram done. It’s the one they will compare all other mammograms to for future changes and signs of abnormality(cancer).
I am 42. I had not yet had my baseline done. Mostly because I just didn’t want to be bothered. So even while I knew it was important and it was time, I hadn’t yet gone. Approval for my breast reduction took forever. (4 months, with no reason given for why it had to be submitted 3 times, nor why there was a delay in verdict, thanks Carefirst BCBS, you’re a champ, like always!) So once that approval came through, it became imperative that I get off my ass and get my baseline done. Luckily, I already had the script, and I knew where I was going, so it was just a matter of calling, scheduling, and arranging it with work.

My first mammogram showed some abnormalities, likly cysts. The radiologist said it was likely fine but I should get another mammogram and an ultrasound in about 6 months. When I said “I’m getting a breast reduction in 4 weeks” he said “well, you’d better get it done before then, but give the results a week to get to your doctor” (the gyno the order had to come from not the plastic surgeon who just needed the results). So I waited a week (it was Christmas after all) and then called the gyno’s office and left a message. They called me back, and while they hadn’t gotten the results yet, they understood my urgency and faxed the new script over to the diagnostic place for me, and I immediately called them and made a new appointment for that week.

The second mammogram and ultrasound was not conclusive. While they determined that the right side was almost definately cysts (less than 2% chance otherwise) there was some asymetry in the tissue on the left side, and I’d need further mammogramming in 6 months. I reminded them, that nope, I would not, because my boobs wouldn’t be there the same way, and was told that the surgeon would have to make the call if I needed to go further along the investigative path or not.

So about a week later I see the surgeon for pre-op two weeks prior to the scheduled reduction, and while he thinks a lot of the radiologist I went to see, he said “if you were my wife, I’d want you to go see a surgeon and have them make a call on it” and gave me some names of docs he worked with previously and offered to let my chosen doc come in during the reduction, if I got the green light to proceed with the reduction, for a biopsy if it was desired. So I called that day and scheduled an appointment for two days later which was also pre-op day with my PCP. I also called to schedule a pick up of my films and ultrasound results because it turns out, NONE of my doctors had been sent them yet, not even from the first mammogram. So irritating.

PCP pre-op went fine, going to blood tests went fine, then the trek to get my films sucked, because despite calling days ahead and asking if they could have them ready Wednesday morning, they weren’t. I had to wait for them to print them all.

Then was the visit to the specialist to find out if I needed a biopsy on my left boob before all the tissue was removed or moved around in such a drastic fashion that the baseline mammogram wouldn’t really map very well to the new structure. Shmoo went with me for this one, and it was a bit of a surreal visit. There were things about this office visit that I don’t think I can blog about without sounding crazypants, so I’m going to skip them, but know that it was an adventure, and yet another man, and his two medical students got to see me half naked and poke at my boobs. Yay. Really. So thrilled at this…

But! What I was actually thrilled about was the verdict that no, it was fine, he didn’t see a need to biopsy. He agreed with the radiologist that yes there was some asymtetry and it was odd, but there was a minimal chance it was bad, and it was just oddly shaped tissue, so, carry on with the reduction.

My Feels!
I’m not going to lie here. I felt super relieved. Despite the crazypants office visit, I came out of that office with the verdict I wanted. I wanted the all clear for the reduction and no need to do a biopsy and that’s exactly what I got. And that he didn’t think anything on my mammogram results was an issue also lifted the worry I didn’t even acknowledge I was carrying. From the moment you hear “irregularity” and “needs more tests” when you get a mammogram, there is the worry that it could be malignant. Even when you are reassured it’s probably not, and even when you know statistically it’s probably fine, and cysts are very common, especially in large breasts, and blah blah blah. I know shmoo was also relieved at this verdict as well. We didn’t really talk about it much, because I’m not much of a talker about the things that really concern me, but I know he worries about me and my health, and this cloud of doubt wasn’t a happy event for either of us.

The week that this all happened, I was a bit numb emotionally. I was trying to get my shit together and check off all the pre-op boxes, deal with this extra “oh your results aren’t good and it might affect your reduction” mammogram stuff, as well as get ready for shmoocon, and prep at work for being out for shmoocon, then coming back into the office for 4 days before going out again for two weeks for the surgery. I felt like I was juggling everything in my life that week, and it was stressful. By the time we got the verdict of no biopsy on Wednesday, I was pretty much at my stress limit, but walking out of that office, it was a burden lifted. It was the last thing I needed to deal with and put behind me for surgery prep and I was happy to have it done.

In all of this, I realized I was very lucky about my concerns (in addition to the results!). Even if they had wanted a biopsy, and the verdict was bad, and I was going to have to get a masectomy, the need for a masectomy was not a concern for me, like it can be for many women. I wanted less boobs, and if I was unlucky enough to need to have them completely removed because of cancer, I was just going to roll with that and move on, because either way I was going to end up with less boobs. I know other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to whom the masectomy was a BIG DEAL, but for me, it was just a question of if I needed to be on additional drugs after that, and how much it would change my life to treat the diagnosis.

So there you have it, the roller coaster that was my life from Christmas to the middle of January. Now go get your mammogram if you need one and have been putting it off. It’s important.

Plated Week 7

Originally published at Soapturtle.net. Please leave any comments there.

Week 7 was pretty good!

Steak Fajitas with Peppers, Onions, and Cholula Guacamole
We liked these. One of shmoo’s co-workers got the same thing this week, and said she didn’t like it as much as previous fajita meals because the marinade was done on the meat, onions and peppers all together and that kind off made it one note. We both agree with that. I think the peppers and onions cooked seperately having not been marinated would have been just as good if not better and added a bit more variety to the dish. The marinade was heavy on the lime juice, and it was my first time using one like that on steak. We really liked the result. Maybe all my steaks needs a citrus marinade going forward. The easy chunky guac was tasty as well. And since the title of this recipe specifically mentions the Cholula, I am going to specifically mention that we quite like Cholula so this was right up our alley. Would do/make/copy again.

Green Thai Curry with Eggplant, Brococoli, and Basil
We both loved this dish. Eggplant is not a favorite of either of us and it was tasty. I did find myself avoiding in the eggplant pieces towards the end of the meal thoough. But the dish was flavorful and super filling. There were a couple of hiccups, but we overcame. I got coconut milk everywhere when I went to dump it in the pot, so half of it was wasted, but luckily, I had a coconut milk in the cabinet so we used that and reduced the amount of water to make up for the extra difference. But, their coconut milk was “lite” and mine was just normal full fat. So I am betting it ended up a bit more flavorful than it would have been otherwise, but we did not mind. I’d love to do this again with a tiny bit of lemongrass or some lime/lemon juice since shmoo hates lemongrass, and use chicken instead of eggplant. Maybe add a little gochuchang or red pepper flake for a bit of heat. Another thing I liked about this dish was it taught me a quick basic way to do candied nuts. I am thinking of trying the same method on some walnuts with a bit of salt and cayenne.

Plated Weeks 5 & 6

Originally published at Soapturtle.net. Please leave any comments there.

(Edited to correct weeks because I dorked them!)

I had surgery (There will a post on this at some point later a few weeks from now, but not today!), and didn’t feel like sitting at the computer so, 2 weeks at one time again.

Week 5
Shmoo cooked the plated dishes for this week, with a little bit of input from me here and there in an advisory capacity.

Cheesy Beef Empanadas with Salsa Roja

So this was a mixed bag. The spinach salad, which we thought would be meh, was totally great. Super simple, but great. The Empanadas and Salsa Roja, not so much. Bland, but also Grease. Grease is the word, and we didn’t even have any Bee Gees in the house. The Salsa Roja itself, wasn’t a salsa, but it was red. The cheese and garlic in the empanadas, and the jalapenos in the salsa just didn’t come through in the end product. It was filling however, and it was good enough that we’ve already talked about how we’d retool this, and we intend to do so at a future point.
Changes we’d make:
-For the spinach salad, more black pepper, and maybe some thinly sliced red onion.
-For the empanadas, I want to use lime marinated skirt steak, and some cotija cheese, add some jalapeno, and maybe add some garlic powder instead of the crushed/diced garlic. The onion amount was sufficient.
-For the Salsa Roja, more tomatos or a can of diced tomatos, as there just wasn’t enough liquid at all. Double the amount of jalapeno, maybe up the onion and garlic a bit, or just use the garlic I am not using in the meat now for the salsa.
Seriously, that spinach salad…. YUM, and so unexpectedly good.

Cauliflower Bahn Mi Bowls with Srircha Mayo
We liked these too. Everything went well together and it was tasty. This was probably the best rice we’ve ever gotten from Plated. I could have done without the sweet potato in it and would have prefered chicken, but mostly we don’t have any problems with this dish at all.

Week 6
I cooked these!
I liked this well enough, but shmoo didn’t really care for it. If I had put the plates together the way they are in the link above as opposed to the recipe card we were sent he probably would have liked it a lot better but as it was the pitas had too much stuff on them and it was too much tomato for him. Our dinner guest thought this was pretty good, and that the meat would be good that style in tacos. These weren’t bad, but they weren’t super great either, so I’d rank these somewhere in the middle of the pile we’ve tried so far. I could see using this method for a meat though to quick fake schwarma in the future.

Sesame Cauliflower Buns with Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Srircha Mayo
So… I’mma tell you out the gate, I fucked this one up. I put the bun filling sauce on the brussels sprouts by accident and after that, there was no going back. So we put both sauces in the pan, and did the sprouts and filling as big pile of stuffing. This means we lost the contrast and texture differences in the dish so it was relatively one note, but it was still a good dinner and while I wasn’t super happy with it because I messed it up, shmoo and our guest both thought it was pretty tasty and it was very filling as well. We’ll be on the look out for this one so we can order it again and make it correctly.

Plated Desserts 1

Originally published at Soapturtle.net. Please leave any comments there.

So, because we only get 2 meals for 2 people per week, we come in at 6 bucks under the free shipping minimum. To fix that, we took the advice of shmoo’s co-worker and get one 1 dessert a week, which is 8 bucks, so for 2 bucks more a week, you also get a dessert. We aren’t really dessert people however, so I am not making those in as timely a fashion as we do the dinners. (Looking at the app however, it appears because we are getting desert for 2 instead of one, it’s 12 bucks, not 8.) They offer 2 choices of dessert each week, and it appears the choices run for 2 weeks at a time. So I plan to post on the dessert recipes we try as well, but not as often. Dessert posts will only be once or twice a month instead of weekly, and likely run a little behind when we actually get the kits.

So far we have made Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and No Churn Ice Cream with Chocolate Coconut Sauce.
We also have one Peanutbutter Marble Brownies kit in house already, but another is coming next week so I decided to wait and just make them both together.

The cookies were a bit meh. The texture was odd. They were OK, but I don’t think I would seek them out as something I was craving to eat. The dark chocolate, oats, and cranberries did all pair well together however, so maybe if the cookie consistancy were better we’d have liked them more.

The no-churn ice cream was a pain in the ass for me. Plated has you do things very manually, which I get, because who wants to require a mixer for a 2 person dessert or any pre-prepped meal you order? I would not get/make this again unless it were in a large enough quantity to use my stand mixer. Having to whisk the heavy cream until it was stiff peaked (very fast for 5 minutes or so) is really to much for my hands, wrist, elbows and arms. I’m in the middle of a tiny RA flare because I can’t take NSAIDs right now, and whipping the cream sucked. I called shmoo in about halfway through and had him finish up. I also didn’t like the little pop-tab on the condensed milk, as it made it take forever to get it out. I ended up using a can opener anyway at the end. I thought there was too much chocolate sauce and the toasted coconut would have been better put into the “ice-cream” to provide it more flavor than just sprinkled on top. It wasn’t bad, and I could see using the method again (with my stand mixer!!!) with some mixed berries or other fruit thrown in as a fruity not quite ice-cream treat and that would probably be quite delicious.

Plated Weeks 3 & 4

Originally published at Soapturtle.net. Please leave any comments there.

So…shmoocon means that things in our schedule got off-kilter and thus, you get 2 weeks combined this go round. There will also be a bonus plated dessert post after this one.

Week 3 dishes were Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps with Basil Rice, and Peanut Chicken Curry over sticky Rice.
Week 4 was Seared Steak with Swiss Chard and Crispy Pamesan Potatoes, and Bok Choy Fried Rice with Butternut Squash and Srircha.

So for week 3, both dishes were REALLY GOOD despite an issue or two, but if I were to make them again, I’d change a lot of things.

Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps
We both loved these, so very much. They were simple and fast and tasty! The only real issue with these is that the butter lettuce was gritty as hell even after a thorough cleaning and run through the salad spinner to dry off. So that sucked, but they did give you plenty of butter lettuce to use, and there was enough filling to use more than the 3 leaves each the recipe advised. The ground beef they sent was 80/20, but since we generally buy 92/8 I found it super greasy even after draining, but otherwise this was great.
I’d like to try making this on my own with the following changes:
-Skirt steak instead of ground beef or 92/8 ground beef, and if it’s the skirt steak, marinate it first in a teriyaki sauce or some Dale’s.
-Thai Basil instead of plain Basil, as I think that’s a better flavor for the dish, and I’d use more of it.
-I’d defintely add more hoisin and sriracha, but we like things pretty spicy. We are possibly of the camp that it’s not spicy enough until it hurts us.
-Add spring onions, and up the amount of cilantro a bit.

Peanut Chicken Curry over Sticky Rice
Again, we both loved this, and again we both agreed we’d change some things. I really don’t care for most of the types of rice Plated sends us. I am not a huge rice person, and generally the only rice I find acceptable is basmati, and it should be cooked with the Toast and Season method. (Rinsed well, cooked with a bit of oil/fat til it slightly changes color and smells nutty, then add the water and cook as normal, preferably with a chicken cube for some extra flavor. I don’t always do this I admit, sometimes we just use a rice cooker.) So I didn’t like the sticky rice. It was ok, but texture wise it was off for me, and I would have loved basmati in the dish so much more. And the instructions for cooking the chicken had you cooking it for 6 minuutes in a pan on it’s own, which did not make sense to me at all, because you were only cooking it through and not browning it. So I put it in the broth to cook instead, so that broth flavor would be in the chicken and chicken flavor would be in the broth. Also, 1 less pan. I thought the broth was a bit on the thin side, but shmoo was fine with it. It was a super tasty dish even with all my complaining.
I very much plan to make this on my own with the following changes:
-Use normal coconut milk instead of lite
-Use more red curry paste, more gochujang, more peanutbutter, and a smidge more ginger.
-Use Basmati instead of Sticky Rice

Week 4 was tasty as hell. Both dishes were good and I plan to do my own versions of both of them in the future.

Seared Steak with Swiss Chard and Crispy Parmesan Potatoes
Neither of us can remember having ever eaten Chard before, and the way the potatoes were done is totally happening in my house again, but this time just cooked on a Silpat instead of parchment, so they don’t stick.
Changes for when I make it:
-Instead of demi-glace in the sauce, I want to use Worchester sauce or maybe a little Dale’s, and up the wine content by about half of what was sent.
-No sugar in the Chard, it was a small amount but I just didn’t think it was needed at all
-More red pepper flake
These are pretty small changes over all, and we really enjoyed the the whole dish. Other than the very first recipe we did (cheesy black bean burritos) this is probably the 2nd on the list for really liking it as is without changing things.

Bok Choy Fried Rice with Butternut Squash and Sriracha
This was good and very filling. We both liked it, and while there were things we’d change, neither of us would be mad if someone made us eat it again as is. They sent basmati rice for this one, so I was a lot happier with life. I followed their instructions on the rice instead of doing it my way, but it was still the best rice we’ve had from Plated. The butternut squash came pre-cut sort of but you still had to cube it up, which was hard because the pieces sent to you were inconsistent. One large section of squash would have been better because then I could have cut it more uniformly. The carrot came shredded, so that was pretty handy. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked bok choy before, so that was both new and educational. I definately feel more confident about the idea of making fried rice on my own now. If you want a vegetarian fried rice dish, this is solid. Shmoo says he did not miss the meat, and he is generally the one who wants meat in all the foods, so that’s pretty high praise.
What I’d change:
-Add some meat. Diced chicken or pork, or shrimp perhaps. Barring that, I’d add some stock or meat flavor to the rice.
-Possibly remove the butternut squash. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but it was a little sweet, and we both thought it was there to be the “meat” of the dish.
-More onion, garlic, soy, and Srircha. Maybe add a little hoisin, or some rice-wine pickled cucumber at the end for flavor/texture/temperature contrast. Possibly some mushrooms would be a good addition as well if you like that sort of thing.
-Maybe instead of the fried egg on top, scrambling it and frying it into the rice in the more traditional style.

So yeah, we really liked all 4 of these recipes quite a bit and we’d eat all of them again, even if it were as is. I do think the minor tweaks and changes would make them amazing dishes however, so I’ll be trying that out at some point in the future.

Plated Week 2

Originally published at Soapturtle.net. Please leave any comments there.

This week’s recipes were OK. There were parts of each dish that were hits and misses.

Roasted Shiitake Bibimap w/ Sweet Potato and Pickled Cucumbers
This was a big one, for me at least. I don’t like mushrooms. I never have. I am incredibly good at detecting mushrooms in food. I can tell if you used cream of mushroom soup in a recipe, with those tiny tiny tiny mushroom spec of yuck.
Choosing a dish that had mushrooms as a main ingredient was a BIG DEAL. I was prepared to eat them and even if I did not like them, because part of using trying plated is expanding our culinary borders, and while I am never going to try a fish dish from them, I figured I could give non-white-button-mushrooms a shot.
We liked the dish. The mushrooms and sweet potatoes in the hoisin-like sauce were pretty good, and the rice vinegar pickled cucumbers were great. My egg frying skills are decent as well so that was fine. The rice was a bit bland. And so very starchy. I had to rinse the rice after cooking as well due to the amount of starch gunking it up, which of course meant the beef boullion cube I put in the water with the rice was basically useless. I had some scallions on hand, so I diced those up and stuck them in some rice vinegar also and we put that in the rice to help it out. Everything but the spinach was pretty good. Shmoo found the spinach to be very blah, and I thought it was on the bland side and just ok, and I had added some sesame seeds to mine to help it out a bit. (There was more oil than I needed so I cooked it in Sesame oil provided as well instead of just olive oil so there wouuld be more flavor but it just wasn’t very flavorful. Bland bland bland.)

Steak au Poivre w/ Crispy Fingerling Potatoes
This was good. Sort of. Again, hits and misses. Shmoo really loved the way the potatos were done. I thought they were tasty as well, but my favorite was the sauce for the steak, even though the dijon mustard that was supposed to come with that recipe was missing. I just stuck some normal mustard in there and made do, but it did bring up an issue I’ll mention down below. The spinach was, again, super bland. I had hopes that it would be better and that maybe it was just what it was paired with on the first dish, but nope, it was still very meh.

So, the thing I have now experieced is an ingredient being left out. This can be problematic.

Even if you have the proper ingredients on hand (as I would have if they had left out a bibimbap ingredient) you don’t really know how much is the correct amount because the recipes don’t give you amounts. You have the ingredients from the dinner kit pre-measured, so if you are trying to replace one or duplicate a recipe, it’s basically your knowledge and guesstimate from when you did make it, or a random guess based on the instructions.

Additionally, you may not have the correct ingredient on hand. We did not have dijon mustard. We have spicy tabasco mustard, and I have mustard I can mix up with mustard powder. Neither of which are dijon. No, I cannot pardon you because I do not have any Gray Poupon, etc. That being said, we did just fine.

Sunday night’s dinner was taking the good parts of the plated dishes this week that we liked and doing them our own way. Or my own way since I am the cook! We did beef tips in a sauce that was a riff off of the poivre sauce, and I did some non-fingerling potatos with that same method. I also pickled some cucumber in rice vinegar for our salad. Overall, it was a great dinner, and I liked trying the different takes on food we’d normally cook.