Carrot Pomegranate Salad

Pomegranates, along with quinces, are one of my favorite things about fall. Growing up, my grandmother had a few pomegranate trees (really more like large shrubs) bordering her patch of dust in the Central Valley of California. And my sister also had some at her previous house. Alas, all have moved on and I no longer have access to the trees, and it’s too cold and damp in northern Oregon to grow them.

Here’s a nice quick salad for fall that I made recently. I really hate slimy, mayo-based carrot-raisin salads, so this is nothing like that. Instead you taste pure sweet carrots and pomegranates.

This would be great for Thanksgiving, or–with the pomegranate swapped out with raisins or currants–fun for Halloween dinner.

Carrot Pomegranate Salad

Mix all of the following together in a bowl:

2 carrots grated (I like the large setting on my box grater)

1/2 pomegranate, seeds separated out

1 tsp aged white wine vinegar

1-2 tsp honey (to taste)

pinch of salt (optional, can be interesting, especially if you have a coarse salt on hand like gros sel)


Yummy and pretty.

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Filed under halloween, Thanksgiving

Spiced Quince Liqueur

Here’s another quince liqueur recipe. This one is new to me, based on one in Barbara Ghazarian’s Simply Quince. She uses sugar and of course we don’t here at AFFFG.

Spiced Quince Liqueur

2 large quinces, washed, cored, and grated

4 cups or 750 ml vodka (I use Monopolowa)

2 cups honey (I prefer wildflower or berry honey because of their floral flavor, but clover is also fine)

6 cloves

2 3-inch cinnamon sticks

1/2 tsp mace

1 tsp almond extract

  1. Put the honey and vodka in a saucepan over medium heat and stir occasionally until the honey is dissolved.
  2. Put all ingredients in a big jar and shake it.
  3. Store in a cool place and shake it once a week.
  4. Should be ready by Thanksgiving. Strain through a coffee filter and put in a pretty jar, where the liqueur will just get better as it ages.
Current liqueur in the jar on the left. A previous year's version on the right.

Current liqueur in the jar on the left. A previous year’s version on the right. Mmmm.

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Filed under liqueurs, quince

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

I’m no longer going to update here about my progress with topical steroid withdrawal. Instead, I’ll be updating my new page devoted specifically to TSW here.

I think updating here about food and gardening once again will help take my mind off the TSW suck-storm and help me feel a little bit more normal. So to that end, I’m going to try to finish up a post about kim chi that I’ve been working on. Stay tuned!

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Week 7, Crusty

Just want to give a brief update on my progress. Mostly I’d like to complain a whole lot about how unbelievably difficult this ordeal has been. Weeks 5-6 were some of my worst, mostly having to do with my inability to cope emotionally with week after week of pain and horrible sleep. Lots of losing my shit out of the blue and being reduced to racking sobs. This was surprising because I tend to think of myself as a strong person. Funny what weeks of this can do to a person.

Around the beginning of week 7, I started trying to reduce my Vaseline usage. The first few tries were just unbearable, and I had to use it again. But I kept trying, and right now I’m on day 3 of no Vaseline. All I’m using on my skin is the daily Epsom salt bath. My skin is like a dead snake, just scale after scale after scale. You would think underneath all of these scales would be fresh, beautiful skin, but instead there are just more scales, or blood. My skin is pulled across my face like a drum. It’s ridiculous. But I’m trying to manage. I read around a bunch and just decided to give it a try. If it actually does lessen the time I’m suffering, then I’m all for it.

I’m not sure if others have experienced this, but in the past week I’ve lost two long-standing moles. One was a seborrheic keratosis mole and the other was a cherry angioma mole. They just dried up and peeled off. I’m amazed.

To deal with the extreme dryness on my hands, I’ve been using white cotton gloves spritzed with water. This helps so much. My skin stays reasonably soft throughout the day.

I’m not really sure what else to say. This whole thing sucks and I can’t wait for it to be behind me. I’ve never wanted time to pass so quickly. I am feeling better, but that is so relative that I almost hesitate to say it. Here are some pictures I just took:

My poor crusty hand.

My poor crusty hand.

The glove treatment.

The glove treatment.

My poor crusty face. I better look like a 30-year-old when this is all finished.

My poor crusty face. I better look like a 30-year-old when this is all finished.


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Filed under topical steroid withdrawal

Week Five, Overwhelm

I just finished my fifth week. Weeks 3 and 4 were the worst I’ve had so far: many horrible days of white-knuckling through the pain, oozing, and lack of sleep. Looking back, I’m not sure how I got through it and I really hope it never gets that bad again. One thing I think TSWers should do is ask their doctors for vicodin. I just did and I can’t believe it took me so long to think of that. There just comes a point where the pain and suffering feel overwhelming and cause their own problem of soreness and exhaustion. Here’s to hoping a good painkiller will make those “surging” days a little more bearable in the next month.

Otherwise, I’m still using the Domeboro, Epsom salt baths, Vaseline, and hydroxyzine (antihistamine). I’ve been able to rely a little less on the ice this week, which feels like progress. My skin is still weeping in spots (inside of elbows, neck, chest, and eyes), though there are less of them and they are weeping less intensely. The swelling has gone down by about 50%. Overall my skin feels and looks like red sandpaper. It’s extremely hard not to scratch the itch, even when I know all the reasons I shouldn’t. It’s a constant battle.

I went out for a ten-minute walk yesterday at noon, with a hat, sunglasses, and covering clothing. It felt good to move my body and be outside. I think on my good days I need to make sure I do some basic stretching because I feel so sore and stiff all over. I’ve noticed that because of the pain, I try to find a comfortable position and then hold it as long as possible. So when I’m sitting on the couch, for example, I don’t move. It keeps me comfortable, but then later I feel broken as a result.

The other thing I’ve been trying to do is take my mind elsewhere. That can be sooooo hard when you’re burning, oozing, and itching! A few times it’s been so painful that I’ve taken some sleeping pills and slept off the worst hours. I’ve watched a lot of movies and listened to a couple of audiobooks. I’ve been trying to practice a basic form of meditation (just focusing on my breath) to calm down and keep from scratching, but I feel like I haven’t been very successful at all with that. Must keep trying.

photo 1

Still pretty red and irritated with some patches of oozing.

photo 2

My hand after five weeks. Sorry for crappy iPhone pictures.



Filed under topical steroid withdrawal

Week Three, Domeboro

This week was all over the map, two steps forward, one step back, and all those other mixed metaphors. I can see the healing, but it once again felt non-linear from one day to the next. So while things are improving, I’m still having:

  • Very bad sleep
  • Weepy, gross ooze
  • Fiery skin
  • Red rashy bumps
  • Nerve stinging on the back of my hand that keeps me awake some nights
  • Dry flaking skin

This ordeal is kind of kicking my butt, I must admit. At first I was all peppy and like, no problem. Now I’m like, okay, wow, this is ridiculous, and it might go on for a while. Oy!

The bright spot in this week was one night of good sleep and discovering Domeboro. Wow. You should all run out and by some. Basically, it’s an astringent and it really dries out the weepiness and little blisters. I’ve been soaking a washcloth in it and then using it as a compress for fifteen minutes twice a day on my chest and neck.

Uh huh!

Uh huh! Buy me!

And here’s a pic I just took:

photo (9)

It looks redder, but actually feels better than last week.


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Filed under topical steroid withdrawal

Week Two, Endurance

I meant to post a week 1 update, but alas, I was too busy packing ice onto my burning flesh. All I can say about the first week is: pure misery. Here are some highlights:

  • Absolutely no sleep
  • Gunk coming out of my eyes like crazy
  • A clear goo oozing out of the rest of me
  • Burning, burning, and, oh, more burning

Here’s how I looked at the end of week 1:

Not pretty.

Not pretty. But better than the first few days.

Foolishly, I thought I would be above average in this whole healing experience. Why? Because I am upbeat and positive, and naturally the Universe would want to reward me for that, right? Wrong. A couple of days after this picture was taken, the “red sleeves” came on and the red bumps spread out to my back, butt, and legs. I was going backwards, not forwards.

I had been hoping that healing would be linear, that every day I would improve just a little. Wrong again. This going-backwards interlude ended with a serious crying jag because I hadn’t slept in days. Oddly, it seemed like my eyes would not actually produce tears. I’m hoping I was imagining that.

Fast forward to the end of week two. Better. Improving. Marginally. I slept through the night for the past two nights, one of them without ice packs. Massive victory! I’m drying up and shedding skin all over the place. My eyes and lips have little cuts all around them that make living unpleasant. And I generally feel gross and awful and like I still have the worse sunburn ever in the history of the world. But, I am trying to stay positive. I figure I’ve got nothing but my shiny attitude.

I haven’t left the house since this whole thing started except to go to the doctor. It’s August and bloody hot, so I’ve been hiding in the temperature-controlled basement. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work from home, thank goodness.

Here’s how I look today, at the end of week two:

photo (3)

I’m improving, right? RIGHT?



Filed under topical steroid withdrawal