Sunday, May 30, 2010

You Win Some…You Lose Some

Since 9/11 I have been a faithful blood donor.   Every eight weeks, like clockwork, I would show up at the blood bank to donate blood.  It was an easy way for me to “do  my part.”

But a few years ago, I began to be rejected for low  iron.  It began to be a complete roll of the dice every time I went….would my iron make it? 

Soon every time I went, as soon as they sat me down for the history I would tell them to just go ahead and check the iron right away as it would be the deciding factor on where we were going. 

I would suffer the little fingerstick and the squeezing of my poor finger until it turned purple and filled a small tube full of blood …and then the telling moment where the technician would plop a drop of my blood into a little fluid-filled vial.  The story was usually the same, we would watch, our eyes riveted to the blood drop, me holding my breath, as we waited for that drop of blood  sample to sink, passing me through to the next phase of blood donation….or not as was  usually the case.   For a long period of time (nearly two years), my little blood drops tended to float not sink…or perform a great tease, dropping almost but not quite all the way down, then slowly make their way back up, stopping to hover somewhere in the middle of the jar, suspended in limbo, not going down….but not going all the way up either.

At this point they would take the little tube and stick in a centrifuge to run a manual count on my iron level.  The magic number was 37.  37 or higher and I was in…any lower and I was OUT!  Usually I would end up somewhere between 34 and 36, with the occasional jackpot of a 37…or close enough to the 37 mark that they would pass me along.

It finally got to the point that even after spinning my blood I was rejected more than I was accepted.  And after a period of time I just gave up. 

Fast forward to the present where I have been  eating far healthier than I ever have in my life.  I drink my Amazing Grass shakes pumped up with spinach..sometimes raw, sometimes steamed.   And I eat lots of beans, broccoli, oatmeal and other iron-rich foods.  

I decided it was finally time to give it another try and headed back to the blood bank.  

This week I made sure I drank my Amazing Grass shakes daily, and steamed the spinach to get the iron.   I also added peaches, with vitamin C, to the shakes to help with the iron absorption.

In addition to this, Tuesday night’s dinner was heavy with lentils, an iron-rich legume,  as I ate a nice helping of my lentil salad, and Wednesday I had my chickpea and spinach stir-fry. 

Thursday morning was the day and I knew I was fortified and ready to go!

FabTeen went along with me for company..not to give blood himself. 

I hadn’t made an appointment, but sadly they are usually not too busy and welcome walk-ins.       DSCF3746FabTeen waited in the waiting area while they whisked me into the office to do my intake…and perform the all-telling iron test!DSCF3747 DSCF3748 DSCF3749As usual  I had them perform the fingerstick first…and he didn’t even drop it into the vial, he immediately walked it out to the centrifuge to check it that way while I waited…DSCF3750End result????   I FINALLY PASSED!  barely with an iron of 38 (remember I needed 37 as the minimum) but at least I passed!

From there he completed the rest of the questionnaire, took my blood  pressure (a  very nice 100/70, thank you very much), pulse, and temperature.DSCF3754After all of the preliminary testing, I was passed on to the “other side” where they actually take the blood!

I had chit-chatted with the guy quite a bit before getting to this point, and it turns out he is vegetarian as well.  I told him about the organic produce box and encouraged him to sign up!DSCF3757I have given blood many, many times in my life and I have never felt nervous…but for the first time this  guy made me nervous!  I even asked him if he was sure he knew how to do it!

He just seemed so hesitant and unsure about it…and right before he stuck the needle in me he kept talking and dragging it out!  First he said, “okay now,”  and I expected him to do it…then “here we go” and I expected him to do it…then “just about ready,” and a few more other things before he finally stuck me!  All his talking made me wonder who he was getting ready…me…or HIM!  And that made me really unsure!

When he finally put it in though, it was so smooth I barely felt it!  I had worried for nothing…DSCF3758 DSCF3759  They took  several vials of blood for testing……DSCF3761 DSCF3762 DSCF3763 And when FabTeen went to take a picture of me, rather than jumping out, the phlebotomist was happy to pose!DSCF3764 No big deal!DSCF3765 All ready to help somebody!DSCF3766 Afterwards, they give you a drink…I used to enjoy an ice cold coke afterwards but now I took water.  The guy next to me (he reminded me exactly of an older version of FabHubs) joked about them being all out of beer…so they whipped out a coupon for the pub next door, a pint for a pint, meaning we could each get a pint of beer for donating a pint of blood!  Cool!!

Then the guy asked for a t-shirt!  They always give a bunch of goodies when you give blood…but they only had one t-shirt.  I really didn’t want another one.  I have so many already and honestly I don’t wear them except for coloring my hair or other messy jobs, so I really didn’t care.   So the  guy offered it to me…but I said no thanks you take it, and he said no you take it, and we went back and forth a little bit…when the other phlebotomist who had the t-shirt asked if I would like a free movie pass instead.  Hmmm…t-shirt or free movie pass….HELLO!  Is there any question????  I so much rather the movie pass!!!  Score!

So I left with a pass for a pint of beer, a free movie ticket, a sticker, a pretty purple gauzy thing, a bottle of water, some Chex Mix, and lots of good feelings…because I was able to help somebody by donating blood AND because my iron was high enough that I could help somebody by donating blood!DSCF3760

DSCF3768 DSCF3772You can only donate every eight weeks…my next date is July 22.  Stay tuned…

Back at home I turned my sights on dinner!

I LOVE tofu….family not so much.  So I am on an endless quest to try to make  the tofu palatable for them!  I try to make it crispy and full of flavor.  So far I am a complete failure in this department…the only one who  likes it is still me.

But I had tofu ready and waiting, and a bunch of veggies I wanted to use up in a stir-fry, and set out on yet another mission to make FabHubs and FabTeen see the light!

First I dug out some yummy-sounding recipes…I stumbled upon one for tofu that sounded great…and another  for an easy stir-fry with miso that sounded great as well.   I had a new tub of miso that had been sitting in the fridge for way too long, and finally welcomed the opportunity to press it into service.

The recipe for the tofu came from Gliding Calm.  I followed it almost to a “T." (for tofu!)  

First though, I had read that tofu was a little less “spongy” if you froze and defrosted it…so that is what I did.  In advance I stuck it in the freezer, and then yesterday I took it out to thaw.  The only other exception was I used pumpkin pie spice instead of ginger, since I was out of ginger.  I sliced up the tofu, mixed the marinade ingredients together, and put everything in a baggy to marinate.DSCF3778

DSCF3776 The freezing business only seemed to make some of the pieces a little crumbly!  DSCF3779 DSCF3780 While my poor tofu was first marinating and then trying to crisp, I got to work on the rest of the dinner.  I cut up a bunch of veggies to get ready to stir-fry them.  What a colorful array!

I had yellow squash, carrot, portobello mushroom, broccoli, onion, and garlic…all from my wonderful organic produce box!  I love that weekly delivery!!DSCF3781 I made a delicious stir-fry sauce, adapting it from this one from FatFree Vegan. 

My miso was red, and I used rice wine vinegar instead of mirin.  I also was out of corn starch so I didn’t thicken my sauce.  I used honey as my sweetener…and  added extra to try to make it palatable  for FabHubs who is a big resistor of anything soy sauce related.  And of course my veggies were as above, whatever I had on hand!DSCF3784Then I got the brilliant idea to toast some sesame seeds to sprinkle on top of the final dish!DSCF3783  DSCF3785I also made some unpictured brown rice on the side to go with the stir-fry.  

Finally everything was cooked and assembled…


And what a disaster! 

The rice was totally mush!

The veggies were not crisp…they were also overdone!

The tofu was tough and chewy!

What a mess!  The sauce came out good though!

So not one of my best cooking efforts at all…but I think that happens to everybody at times.

I definitely got “The Look” from FabHubs and he did not have seconds.   FabStepson was the only other one home…but he ate it.

However FabTeen happily ate it as leftovers the next day, go figure!

I will still not give up on the tofu though! 

Do you have any tried and true hits for preparing tofu!  Please share!!!!


Tricia said...

sounds like a win-win situation with the blood :)

I love tofu too!

Kate said...

Congrats on the iron level! Good for you for donating blood. You look great in your pictures.

I like to press my tofu, dice it into 1" cubes, spray it with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 375 till it's crispy. Then I use it in a stir-fry, adding it at the last minute so it stays crispy.

mary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mary said...

We're not huge tofu fans, but everyone at my house thinks curry tofu is not bad.