Day Four: No Killing

As Day Four of the Whole Thirty Days draws to a close, your intrepid correspondent is pleased to report that no one has been killed. I counted.

In fact, I did not even have the desire to kill anything today, except for every morsel of food set before me, and those figuratively. The fourth day has, on the whole, been the same as the previous day and the one before that. It is marred by nothing but that vague ache of emptiness and the urgent desire for an enormous slab of fresh-baked bread covered with butter and honey. Or a biscuit ring. Or three.

Have I ever shared the recipe for biscuit ring? I’ll do so now, just in case. It won’t take long.

Biscuit ring

  • 1 can of Pillsbury biscuits (buttermilk work best, I think. The blue ones)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • A pat of butter, to taste – this might be a teaspoon or a tablespoon or maybe more

First, put the brown sugar into a pie pan, or some similar conveyance, right in the middle, preferably in the shape of the measuring cup. Put the pat of butter in the pan also, but off to the side someplace where it won’t get in the way. I’m not sure why this is important but it’s just the way things are done. Then, turn on the kitchen sink just a little bit so there’s just a tiny stream of water coming out, or maybe only some heavy dripping. Drip the water onto the brown sugar until it’s just beginning to get saturated and slide into a formless mass. (This is an art. Practice it.) Make sure all the brown sugar got some water, then put the pan into the microwave for 45 seconds or so to melt the butter.

While that’s happening, open the tube of biscuits. These days, you get bonus points if the biscuit can actually pops open when you peel the paper back instead of requiring you to wrench it open or bash it against something hard. Man, back when I was a kid, Pillsbury knew what they were about. Back then they manufactured biscuit cans under so much pressure it’s a wonder they didn’t spontaneously explode as soon as they started getting warm coming out of the fridge. Some of those cans made such a bang that unsuspecting passersby in the next room might start wondering if someone nearby was on Day Four of the Whole Thirty. But I digress.

Cut the biscuits into quarters. This should leave you with a large gelatinous pile of biscuit quarters. You’ll want to separate these out a bit, then stir up the now-melted butter and sugar mixture and put the biscuits into it. Stir the mass around and make sure all the biscuits get coated up. Then clear out a hole in the middle, grab a drinking cup or a mug, and put it upside down into the middle of the pan. This forms the ring, which is important for both functional and aesthetic reasons. Put the pan back into the microwave and cook to taste. My taste generally runs to about 2:30, but if you like your microwaved biscuits well done or if you have a substandard microwave then go for three minutes.

For a healthy variation on this theme you can add walnuts prior to cooking, but in my eyes there are two downsides: 1) I don’t like walnuts in my biscuit ring, and 2) I don’t like healthy in my biscuit ring.

If you’re one of those “read the package”-type people, you may also notice that every tube of Pillsbury biscuits warns you not to microwave the biscuits. They have said this for at least two decades and I still don’t know why. Most likely microwaving the biscuits causes them to be poisonous or something, and you will die an early and painful death as a result. I guess you can take comfort in the knowledge that if and when this happens to you, it probably happened to me already.

Back to Business

So anyway, here’s Day Four in the can. I did not eat a biscuit ring, or even three of them, but I won’t deny that the option did cross my mind.

I’m mildly curious to see what Day Five will be like, because thus far this whole venture has not lived up to expectations. Even Mystie said she didn’t feel like killing anything today, though she did go to bed early with a terrible cold (doubtless brought on by gluten shortage). Starting today I have experienced some mildly distressing effects in the gastrointestinal system, but as I daily strive to keep this a chaste and discreet blog, I will refrain from providing lurid details. It’s also difficult to say whether any perceived symptoms or benefits are actually thanks to the Whole Thirty diet or if credit goes to the apple cider vinegar and/or the probiotics I’m being compelled to ingest each day. I’ll certainly have more to say about each of these in turn.

Day Three: Not Much to Gripe About

Day Three of the “Whole Thirty”. We are 10% done with this wholesome folly.

As it turns out, it is possible to subsist on vegetables and protein, albeit for limited periods of time. The feeling which previously characterized my lower torso, viz. that of having been wholly scooped out by a strong man wielding a shovel, has today subsided. This may in part be due to having smoked two pipes of tobacco, but it is more likely thanks to the stellar culinary accomplishments of my beloved wife. She also says that she is glad, in some perverse fashion, of my continually dripping attitude toward this “Whole Thirty” fiasco, because if I wasn’t incessantly complaining about it she probably would be. Whereas now that I’ve nabbed the role for myself, and the only option she’s left with is to play the cheery-eyed foil to my rendition of Oscar the Grouch.

Breakfast today was the becoming-customary four eggs, two slices of bacon, and a veritable heap of sautéed vegetables. Lunch was a suitable amount of leftover beef accompanied by cucumber, salad, and pears. Dinner was a meat stew (I think there were some carrots in there, but when everything starchy is verboten, “meat stew” means “meat stew”) with a side of yam and a salad which also had pears in it. Yams are a staple of this diet, and I’m not complaining, even though it seems like nothing more than sheer hypocrisy that potatoes are forbidden while yams are not. Vegetables are also a staple of this diet, and I will continue to complain about that because nobody should have to eat vegetables for breakfast.

Part of the problem with this diet is food boredom. You can’t even chew gum to alleviate the food boredom, nor can you drink tea with honey in it. You are permitted to drink tea without honey in it, but seriously, who does that? Maybe I’ll take up pipe smoking as a daily habit in order to stave off food boredom.

I’ve been informed that tomorrow, Day Four of Thirty, is a day on which the prevailing theme is “kill all the things”. Apparently this is the point in the diet when the dietee becomes homocidal for want of normal-people food. Coincidentally, it’s also the day I return to work after a lengthy Christmas vacation. Good thing I work from home?

Day Two: The Whole in My Heart

The men awakened this morning complaining of a certain hollowness in their midsections. This demonstrates conclusively that sleep does not cure all ills, for said hollowness is the precise malady they complained of last night. I must beware that the quiet grumbling already beginning among the ranks does not spread into general mutiny if we are to survive the month.

–excerpt from the journal of an anonymous expeditionary force leader

It’s a curious thing how one can consume vast quantities of vegetable matter and yet have one’s vital organs report no change in status. I used to marvel politely when informed that an elephant can eat up to 330 pounds of food each day, but I don’t anymore, because it’s all leafy greens. I could probably eat 330 pounds of leafy greens each day, if I had big enough teeth. The stuff has some kind of antimatter properties once consumed; it takes up no space.

Today’s “Whole Thirty” lunch consisted of a salad left over from yesterday’s lunch. Yesterday, having consumed a sizeable quantity of yam in the morning and a no less significant portion of pork and raw carrots for lunch, I did not consider myself equal to the task of consuming the large and handsome salad my wife had prepared (topped with frozen raspberries). This was before I remembered the physics-defying properties of leafy green vegetable matter. Thus, I put the ill-fated pile of rabbit food back into the refrigerator with the noble intention of eating it today. When today rolled around, I was once more painfully reminded of what should be an axiom of the kitchen: leafy greens, removed from their protective wrapping, are a one-way food. They can come out of the refrigerator, but having done so they may never return, upon pain of consuming a slimy, sinewy green mass. Fortunately, though I may not be a thinker, I am a man.

My wife is a kindly soul, and I think she feared that my constant relaying of personal inner emptiness into the surrounding environment might result in the formation of some kind of vacuum or black hole. Therefore, today’s lunch was accompanied by an indeterminate (but significant) number of mixed nuts she made a special trip to procure this morning. I was surprised by the appearance of nuts on the menu and asked if therefore peanut butter is acceptable on this diet. (As a staff officer, I strive to keep myself above the operational details, leaving such things to my trusted lieutenants.) She replied that no, peanuts are verboten because they are legumes. I responded (after a hasty inspection) that this package of mixed nuts contained peanut oil. Verboten? Nein, said she, that is fine. You can have the oil, the fat, but not the entire legume. This as opposed to fruits, where you can have the entire fruit but not individual parts of it (viz., the juice). It is important for any fad diet to have plenty of arbitrary rules, because it gives the disciples many things to think about.

Day One: A Man Can Do Anything for Thirty Days

“Whole Thirty”: Because everyone loves fad diets!

I woke up well before the crack of dawn this morning with a vague sense of trepidation. It was not because I knew that the glass of wine and many pieces of fudge I had consumed the night previous would be the last for a very long time. Nor was it because I had been given to understand that the morning’s breakfast would consist of yam and eggs, though this might have shaken the morale of a lesser man. Rather, I awoke because the baby was throwing a fit, and my vague sense of trepidation arose from the fact that these little predawn adventures are always liable to start a sort of chain reaction of personal needs among the younger set. I got the baby a bottle and went back to bed. The night before I’d rashly suggested that I’d be getting up on time this morning to start this “Whole Thirty” thing off rightly, but the multiple nocturnal expeditions set me straight on that. I’m on vacation. I went back to bed.

Considerably later this morning, I rose again, this time on a semi-permanent basis. My lovely wife, whose sheer dedication to the art of ascetic dining prompted me to join her in this crazy adventure, had of course already prepared my first meal of The Unholy Thirty (as I prefer to call it). I set myself to work surrounding it, and although I think breakfast yams are generally improved by a zealous omission of garlic, on the whole breakfast was satisfactory. Bafflingly, in a diet seemingly calculated to eliminate any physical pleasure that might be derived from eating, coffee is not prohibited by the “Whole Thirty” diet. I acted accordingly, and morale was subsequently improved.

The day ended with a delicious beef roast and a thoroughly fancy salad, both of which were delicious, and both of which (when consumed in gratuitous quantities) left my insides feeling utterly hollow. (Protein alone never makes me feel full, and as for vegetables–nothing more need be said about vegetables.)

One might ask why I am participating in the “Whole Thirty” madness at all. My wife is in it for the weight loss aspects, and I’d like to make a show of solidarity, but I’m 6’1” and 165 lbs. and would consider any weight loss on my part to be a fresh new health concern. However, the local proponent (a.k.a. wife) around here claims that “Whole Thirty” is also good for healing things like chronic heartburn/stomach acid, which I do suffer from. On top of that, that proponent (not a medical professional) seems convinced that I have a “leaky gut” (which mere phrase causes me to wince and clutch my midriff), and this solid 30 days of vegetables and apple cider vinegar is supposed to fix that right up too. Thus, here I am!

As you might possibly have observed, my general attitude toward this venture is one of mild skepticism. (Dare I say, wholesome skepticism?) However, I’m unwilling to make a blanket judgment without actually trying it myself, and besides, outright condemnation of fad diets carries considerably more weight (heh) from one who has actually experimented with it. These, then, are the journal of an expedition, an expedition to either validate or wholly debunk the whole diet.

Day One: morale is good.