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Epilepsy and My New Car

Five years ago last month, I woke up in the ER to a new world of epilepsy. This spring, I bought a new car.That night of my first diagnosed seizure — I would had others but did not know what they were — a cranky ER doc shrugged, "It's probably idiopathic," and kicked us out the door. My spouse and I, scared and confused, resented his flippancy, and do still. But he was right. Two years of intensive diagnostics were unable to identify a cause for my seizures. This is actually common. Epilepsy is sometimes undetectable on an MRI, and seizures can flash across the temporal lobe like summer sheet lightning without a raindrop in sight. A puzzle as old as Galen, epilepsy is still fundamentally defined the way the Greeks did: by what it does, rather than what it is. Unless there is a brain lesion, injury, or tumor that the docs can see, or some other illness of which seizures are a side-effect, then you are basically dealing with a ghost.What medicine offers now, if you are fortunate, is the means to keep it at bay. Not that finding effective treatment was easy. During those same two years of fruitless diagnosis, I took drug after draining drug. The seizures lessened, and I never again had one that blacked me out. But the ghost did not go away. Finally, I had a small joy-buzzer implanted in my chest that delivers a small shock to my vagus nerve where it crosses my larynx, every 2.5 minutes. I found a drug cocktail I could tolerate with efficacy at least north of placebo. And I took my diet to full-on paleo. So, for the past three years, this triple therapy of implant, drugs, and ketogens has gotten enough of a collar on Casper the Unfriendly that I am returned to the ranks of the outwardly able-bodied. I say outwardly, because for many people who have it, epilepsy is also defined by the things we are not permitted to do. Two generations ago it was immeasurably worse: we were castrated and sterilized, locked in segregated wards of asylums lest we infect the insane. Now we are mostly prevented from getting conveniently around town. I could not drive for those first two years, and it was an enormous education. A trip that takes 12 minutes by car takes 45 by foot and bus. A 45-minute trip across town drags to over 2 hours. That was not the real learning, though. A local bus in a western city, stopping every two blocks through a working-class neighborhood, affords views you do not get from the highway. And when you ride that bus for a year, watching the guys in winter bundled up for a workday they will spend outside, savoring the ride because it is the warmest they will be all day — when you watch underdressed moms and kids get on that bus after frigid waits in the blowing snow when the bus is 20 minutes late — when you you spend one of those waits yourself, after walking half an hour in dress shoes on an unplowed sidewalk, contemplating how you would have been able to get through those snowdrifts if you would been in a wheelchair — then you come to think of driving, even walking, as indeed a privilege.I am not complaining — far from it. My time out of the driver's seat turned out to be only a field trip. I've been released from driving restrictions for some time now, and because my job takes me to five counties every week, and because I can, I just bought a new hybrid sedan. I chose it for the mileage and the semi-autonomous safety gadgets. But what I guiltily love is the quiet. The world outside, that on a sidewalk or bus felt so fulsome to the senses, is now muted to a simulator. My music gently croons. The temperature hovers at an amniotic 70 degrees. Scenery — and thoughts — that used to linger and penetrate now barely register.What remains is a sharpened sense of the contingency of living that epilepsy shocked me into five years ago. It suits my current work as a family court mediator: I move from one half-day block after another through successive worlds of domestic sorrow, as though between rocking compartments of a fast-moving train. The job is to be intensely present in each room, and then just as intensely to exhale in the corridor between. And pulling out the courthouse parking lot I pause to notice the guy sitting at the bus shelter where I used to wait, sometimes five minutes, sometimes an hour, for the local bus whose driver will spout off about libertarian politics to anyone who will listen, or just to the rearview mirror if nobody will. And I thank Zeus, and all the gods.

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How Can I Make My Cheese Sauce Creamier?
Sodium citrate. It's not some crazy scientific chemical, you have it in plenty of other foods. I've made and messed up a lot of mac and cheese in my day and sodium citrate is the way to go. This page is very helpful. If you don't have some on hand mix a bit of vinegar and baking soda together until they no longer react and add a bit at a time of that solution until consistency and texture is to your liking. Just be careful when using it at first because it can make your sauce seem bitter and or salty. I would not suggest using strong IPA if you're doing a beer cheese sauce - I speak from experience• Related QuestionsIf you add spices to boiling pasta, will it absorb spices/flavours?That will work only for water-soluble spices, and you will still end up pouring a lot of spices away with the water.I once took a cooking class with Bavarian chef Alfons Schuhbeck, and his recommendations were:The last point can be taken one step further by preparing a somewhat watery sauce and cooking the (raw) pasta in the sauce. It will take a bit longer than usual, and you have to develop a feeling for just how much liquid you will need (or keep and eye on the pasta and add more water as neededa bit like making risotto). However, the pasta will absorb a lot of flavor from the sauce, and no starch from the pasta will end up getting poured out with the water (it all goes into the sauce).As an additional benefit, you have only one pot to clean in the end instead of two------Why does my cookbook want me to drain my tomatoes for a pasta sauce?Draining some of the juice allows you to get to a thick sauce quickly. It may also reduce some of the acidity which may be why you prefer this recipe.The thickness of the pasta sauce goes hand-in-hand with the shape of the pasta you're making.Different pasta shapes can hold different amount of water (say fusilli vs spaghetti) and traditionally you boil down the sauce to make it thicker so the pasta can hold it. However, this can have other effects including change of colour.You can save the tomato juice and make a mean bloody-mary/ceasar with it. Throw in some worcestershire sauce, tabasco, a stick of celery and optionally a stick of dried meat (e.g. beef jerky) and it's a meal onto its own.Tomato juice is also a great hangover cure. so either way, you can save the stuff and not waste it------Sauting big batch of onionsI have not personally tried this with onions, but whenever I need to cook large batches of something (for example, bacon) and I don't have enough space on top of the stove, I try to find a way to work it in the oven.Although it's not going to be a true saute, I think you could probably achieve what you want with a few sheet pans of onions (mixed with oil) in the oven.This recipe would probably be a good guideline for time and temperature. If that doesn't sound like something you'd like to try, do you have a grill? What if you laid out a large amount of foil across the grates of your grill (put a lip on the edge, basically make an impromptu baking sheet out of foil) and do them on the grill over low to medium heat until they're the texture you want?------I'm tweaking a Lasagna BologneseThe thing about lasagna is that it really only needs to be heated through. All of the components (pasta, the sauce or sauces, the cheeses) are already cooked, or don't need to be cooked.So baking the whole lasagna heats it through and helps the flavors to meld. A 4" thickness not tremendously thicker than some more traditionally proportioned lasagnas, so you should expect it to bake through in about the same time any casserole of that thickness would require. I would start at about 325-350 degrees, for about 1 hour to maybe 1:15. You may need to leave it covered for most of the baking period so that the top doesn't overly brown or dry out.In the end, you can test the casserole with an instant read. It should probably get up to about 150 or 160 F internally to be enjoyableLasagna should be very forgiving------Why is the pasta often cooked in the sauce in al'arrabiata recipes?While Italian cuisine is defined regionally, the majority of Italian pasta dishes have one cook the pasta until almost done, then finish in the condiment. While there are exceptions that include thick, long cooked sauces like Bolognese or sugos, finishing in the condiment serves several purposes: (a) the pasta and the condiment can be combined, (b) the pasta finishes cooking, (c) it absorbs the flavor of the condiment, and (d) the condiment (sauce) thickens and emulsifies from the addition of the starchy pasta cooking water (this can be controlled by adding cooking water and/or allowing it to cook off). Yes, it is more difficult than cooking separately, and it can be a little nuanced, but it is not very technical. With a bit of practice, I think you will find this step worth it------Which is a typically American way of seasoning spaghetti and other pasta?The most common preparation is tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.Of course, some Americans will tell you that the only truly American way to eat spaghetti is to top it with chili, then shredded cheddar cheese, then chopped onions, then red kidney beans. It's hard to fully express the majesty of this dish, and should only be enjoyed on special occasions, like the Super Bowl.In Canada (which I consider to be basically "American"), it's also fairly common to add or replace the tomato sauce with pesto sauce. Soft goat cheese is another common additive. Perhaps these sound "Italian" but I'd consider an Italian pasta to be something more like a bolognese, carbonara, alfredo, or even the trusty old butter/olive oil and parmesan cheese. You'll almost never see tomato sauce combined with pesto sauce in an authentic Italian restaurant (or in Italy), but it's common in American home cooking------Why do beverages taste different based on how cold they are? closedI think the question is too general to give any terribly useful answer.Most of what we consider taste is actually smell i.e. it's the detection of volatile chemicals from the food in the nose. The volatility of many chemicals found in food changes a lot over the 0C to body temperature range, and this would have a big effect on taste.Many foods contain fat and this melts over the zero to body temp range. This probably affects texture more than taste, but it may also affect volatiles dissolved in the fat. A good example is to try and eat pasta sauce straight from the fridge. If the sauce contains any appreciable amount of fat it usually tastes disgusting :-)------What can be used as a substitute for tomato sauce in typical italian dishes?A big component of pizza sauce has nothing to do with tomatoes per se. Break down the components and consider alternatives.Water: Yup, tomatoes are just wet, so you'll need some liquid.Sugar: Tomatoes are naturally sweet, so you'll need some sugar/honeyAcid: This is huge, but easily fudged with vinegar or lemon juiceSeasonings: As much onion (powder), garlic (powder), salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley as you wantDepth: This is the tricky part, that rich, almost smoky quality of cooked tomatoes. It won't be easy to replace. Darin's answer probably comes closest with a similarly colored pepper cooked with direct heat. To expand on that, I think you could venture into other peppers besides just red bell, maybe some mexican low-heat varieties, a little chipotle, perhaps?.------How to prevent watery spaghetti squashIf you're plating with a harm to hot sauce, your squash will cook further; try removing the squash and shredding it 5-10 minutes earlier than you normally would, and allow the shreds to rest until they've cooled to room temp; the heat from the sauce will finish the cooking process, and warm them up again.This is similar to adding slightly undercooked noodles to a sauce while it's still cooking, but better suited to something as delicate as spaghetti squash.Oh, one more tip; when roasting your squash, start with the cut sides facing down to steam it, then flip them facing up with a bit of water in your roasting pan for the remainder of the time; it cooks the squash all the way through, but also gives it a great roasted flavor from the outside layer of flesh.------How well does it work to just throw in all the ingredients and boil?Ah, One Pot Pasta....As loads of bloggers, authors and cooks - possibly inspired by Martha Stewart and her team - have confirmed: dumping the pasta, sauce ingredients and a carefully meassured amount of liquid in one pot or pan will give you a "pasta and sauce" dish in ten to fifteen minutes.And it works. Sort of. Your instinct matches my experience: when you omit the sauting or slow roasting of ingredients you are missing the flavour compounds that this step creates, likewise if your recipe stews the sauce for a long time. So while all ingredients in one pot pasta will be cooked, due to cutting everything to the appropriate size, the flavour will be different from what your traditional method creates. If you expect one pot pasta to taste like your traditional recipe, you will probably be disappointed. If you are simply aiming for a creative, hassle-free quick dish, go for it------Why isn't pasta water salted in Chinese cuisine?I would say it's because the sauces are salty on their own so you don't need to "coat" the noodle in salt for taste while boiling. As (correct me if I'm wrong) in Asian cuisine the noodles are rather neutral in taste absorb spices from fat in sauce. The increased boiling point for salted water, in my opinion, is only usable when making thick noodles or ones that carry on room temperature. So putting them in boiling water won't lower the temperature below 90C degrees (if the water is salted and have temp over 100C). Third thing are eggs. It's a mix of two previous ones, so you need the salt to bring the flavour of the egg noodles and be sure you boil them in high temperature to cook the eggs------Why add salt to the water when cooking pasta?I am really surprised that there was no answer above relating to the simple fact that adding even half a teaspoon salt to the boiling water serves this purpose:That's also why I have stopped rinsing the boiled noodles, which washes off and leaches out more vitamins down the sink-drain.If you drain noodles after boiling and don't want them to stick together, just run a Stick of butter very fast through the whole batch, which immediately improves the flavor, or put your thumb almost totally over the top of a bottle of first-pressed olive oil, and sprinkle a teaspoon or so over that batch of noodles and stir fast.I have thereby never had any problems of sticky lumps, when stored in the refrigerator, and I have preserved a better level of nutrition.------How should one go about reheating pasta?I've steamed my pasta -- in fact, it's how I reheated pasta during my years of living without a microwave.The important part is to not overcook the pasta in the first go through -- pull it when it's al-dente; I'd also toss in some oil or butter so the pasta wouldn't stick together, as you want the pasta loose in the steamer, not a giant glob of fused pasta.I'd get it most of the way heated through, and then finish it in the sauce. On days I was lazy, if it wasn't a really thick pasta, I'd just heat up the sauce, and put the pasta in for a minute or less to reheat. The important part was that the pasta was oiled so it wasn't a giant lump, and the sauce could get in there to heat the pasta up
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