Archive for the ‘Background’ Category

Mea Culpa. I have failed the Coffeepot Cult.

September 10, 2011

Back to Coffeepot Cooking

Over the past eight months, I have not posted anything new and in fact my last eight posts had more to do with portion controlled meals than they did with coffeepot cooking. It’s not that I gave up on portion controlled meals or even coffeepot cooking; I just went through a phase where I stopped feeling creative about what I eat. I also stopped worrying too much about my weight which is still around 176 plus or minus four pounds.

I am also starting a new hiking/tour business which took an incredible amount of my time and creative energy so I stopped being creative with what I ate. Instead of searching the Net for new recipes which could be adapted to my coffeepot or creating a unique meal from my knowledge of food and flavors that work together, I reverted to those recipes already published by me. Even when I created a new meal, I still didn’t publish because most were simply not as good as the ones I originally published or I failed to write the recipe down and skipped taking pictures.

Well, my business, Hikestcroix.com is starting next month and I’m beginning to feel creative about food again. I don’t know if this will continue as I start walking 20 miles a week with temperatures around 88 and humidity above 85% but I know I am still committed to eating healthy portion controlled meals.

I have also started growing my own fresh vegetables including microgreens which I never heard of until a couple of months ago. I like the concept that I can grow my own greens from seeds and water that are fresh and delicious. However, after 66 years, I am more accustomed to the texture of traditional lettuce, spinach, cucumbers and seasonal tomatoes.

I am going to try to adapt some of these greens to the things I like such as soup and coffeepot meals in addition to salads. I will publish the salads and coffeepot meals here in the near future.

Top Ten Vegan and Vegetarian Posts

January 7, 2011

I know what I like to eat and I don’t look for exact recipes, I look for ideas. Naturally, I surf Foodpress daily in almost every category except baking and desserts.  It is probably a sin to destroy your temple by eating sweets when you have a tendency towards obesity and equally sinful to turn on an oven when cooking meals for one.

I am more of an accidental Vegetarian than a committed one and it probably started with my friend Tracey who talks the talk of vegetarianism but will start her day with a bag of Doritos and not even the original ones which were not too artificial. As the year progressed, I have cut my meat portions from 8 ounces to 4 ounces and reduced the number of times I eat meat in a week from twice a day to 3-4 times a week.  This means I have cut back from 7 pounds per week to about 1 pound per week due to the intentionally portion controlled meals and the unintentional shrift to a vegetarian diet.

Of course the shift involves my cooking for female friends all who happen to favor vegetarian diets.  Frankly  by focusing on the rich foods of India which have developed from centuries of a vegetarian diet and the foods of Italy which have had centuries of meatless Friday’s, I have not suffered from a lack of flavor or foods that I really like. Yet I still will honestly post on what I eat.

This post evolved from two Foodpress listings, one from the Teacher Cooks on her top ten posts for the year and the other from Lisa’s call for vegan and vegetarian recipes with the intent of moving “to live a more sustainable and fulfilling life through getting back to basics, especially through food.” While it may seem weird that I do a lot of cooking in my coffeepot, it is consistent with my goal of minimal energy consumption for a small amount of food.

I also purchase as much as I can from the local Vegetable Market which has great vegetables in the American winter and fantastic fruit in summer.  It is unfortunate that when cooking meals for one, you sort of rely on canned beans because the alternative is to cook large quantities  and have infinite leftovers or waste a lot of energy cooking a cup of beans because you still have to  keep the almost empty pot on the stove for the same length of time you would cook a full pot.

Well, Lisa here is the Ten Vegan and Vegetable meals from my site and I once again learned something as I did with my post The Peoples Choice – A Bakers Dozen of Top Recipes

In the case of the following list all of the top 6 are boldly flavored vegan recipes if you leave out the dollop of sour cream on two of the soups.  The last 4 are Italian vegetarian creations based on dairy products.  Super healthy meals that taste great like Diabetic Friendly and Vegan Tomatoes and Cannelloni Beans Over Barley which was one of my favorites did not make the list. Oh well healthy is good  – just not too healthy.

  1. Pinto Bean Curry (Rajma Chawal) – A Tribute to Monica
  2. Super Vegan Acorn Squash Soup
  3. Caribbean Black Bean Soup (vegetarian)
  4. Vegan Red Beans and Brown Rice
  5. Crucian Butternut Squash Fritters
  6. Picture Perfect Borscht Tastes Good Too!
  7. Penne with Cauliflower in White Sauce or “Penne con Cavolfiore”
  8. Melt in Your Mouth Eggplant Parmesan
  9. Vegetarian Broccoli Soup
  10. Rotini Dolores

In the past year, I have lost 65 pounds without a diet.  I eat everything  I want for dinner in small portions and during the day I graze on all the items a rabbit would eat i.e raw carrots, celery,  lettuce and cucumbers.  When available I eat locally grown fresh fruits. I am not suffering from a lack of energy as I walk 2-5 miles a day in addition to some yard work and daily cooking.  I don’t really even count how many carrots or pieces of celery I eat or how much fluids I drink because I now eat as much rabbit food as I want and  drink all the fluids I want.

I am not perfect or even close to it. I party with my family and gain a quick 5 pounds because of the lifestyle change and when they are gone, I revert back.  The 5 pounds is gone in about 2 weeks without any draconian efforts.  I intend to drop another 15 pounds to 165 so I can claim to have lost 100 pounds from my peak weight but will settle for a permanent weight of 170-172 which last occurred in 1967. Oh well, it’s a plan, not a resolution or a dream.

The Peoples Choice – A Bakers Dozen of Top Recipes

January 2, 2011

Picture Perfect Borscht

I picked up on a cute idea from Foodpress.com where The Teacher Cooks Posted her Top 10 for 2010. About half of her top posts are deserts and it’s important to know what people expect from you.  I taught marketing for ten years and one concept I stressed is sell to success. If  you have something that people like, keep making and doing more of the same because you become the “go to person” for that item.  In my case Vegetarian, Side Dishes and Caribbean (Puerto Rican) recipes are the most frequent, but some experiments with sous vide cooking are also very popular.

For me this is positive feedback as I just started meatless days in the past year and plan on more in 2010 so I am glad to see that sharing them will be rewarding and on days when I eat meat there is nothing more flavorful than Caribbean foods.

A bakers dozen of course refers to the number 13, and yes I am old enough to remember the baker throwing the extra one in the bag but now that we have big chain markets selling everything, I am not sure of the last time I heard the phrase or got an extra roll thrown in for good measure.

#13, Lamb Curry or Curried Lamb?

#12, Picture Perfect Borscht Tastes Good Too!

#11, Indian Curried Shrimp

#10,  Caribbean Black Bean Soup (vegetarian)

#9,  Pinto Bean Curry (Rajma Chawal) – A Tribute to Monica

#8,  Smoked Turkey and Collard Greens

#7, Puerto Rican Style Red Beans and Rice

#6,  Coffee Pot – Pot Roasted Chicken!!

#5,  Is it “Coq au Vert” or “Poulet au Vert”?

#4,  Salad, a Work of Art?

#3,  Lamb Sous Vide – La Quinta Motel

#2,  Sous Vide Ribs – Nothing Better

#1,  Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas (Arroz con Gandules)

The picture of Borscht is my favorite picture for the year and that’s why it accompanies this post.

What a Difference a Year Makes!!!

December 31, 2010

A 10" waist Loss and the Belts to Prove It!!!

What a year this past year has been. It has been a year for endings and beginnings and the rebuilding of my body and soul. At 93 and 103 my Mother and Mother-in-Law passed away. At these ages we have to accept the natural course of the events of life. While I still miss my wife, I have moved past the grief and sorrow stages to acceptance and many pleasant memories. More importantly, my children and granddaughters seem to have done the same. Those who remain have grown closer which was unexpected for an already close and loving family.

My Loving Bookends - Working to keep me Upright!!

The year started with me under edict from my daughter and niece to drop 40 pounds or they would not go to space camp with me. The concept of living on portion controlled slow cooked dinners while snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables evolved into a steady routine. As the year ends, I have moved out of the coffeepot and into the fondu pot (which is rally an electric skillet) and occasionally back to the oven and stove. As my cooking became more main stream, my fan base grew and my recipe acceptance at foodpress.com became more frequent.

My health has been a year of down and up but mostly up. In April, I suffered a very minor stroke which paralyzed my left leg for about an hour. Two heart specialist said my heart was in perfect shape and that it wasn’t a Transient Incident. One neurologist didn’t diagnose much of anything and finally the chief of medicine for Largo Hospital suggested rather bluntly that event though I had lost 35 pounds I was still clinically obese from 30 years of over eating. Also, being in shape is fine but obese is still unhealthy.

During all this testing my local physician discovered a deteriorated disc which was compressing my spinal column and had to be corrected in order to not have a different and more permanent form of paralysis in the future. I needed a disc removed and everything fused in place. Now in this case being in shape physically did cut my recovery time as they expected me to be in the hospital for several days on pain killers when in fact I left the day after surgery and never took pain killers. The day after that, I started walking five miles a day with my daughter and driving without any great problems.

My weight loss has been steady except for my vacations with family. I don’t consider these lapses as failures because I plan them in advance. I know the social nature of my family and plan a 5-7 pound gain when they are here and since it is now only a temporary gain, it only takes me a week or two to get back to where I was before the clan had gathered.

I am now down to 178-182 depending on socializing which is about 65 pounds lighter than a year ago. I also walk about 2.5 to 4 miles a day at a fairly brisk pace and this has contributed to a lack of baggy skin. Just as I am proud of my family and my granddaughters and my bookends, I am also proud that I have been able to drop 10 inches off my waist. My size 36 shorts and bathing suits are now loose and I am actually in danger of losing my swim suit when diving into the pool at the Palms Hotel.

I didn’t bother making New’s Year’s resolutions last year as this had nothing to do with my resolve to improve myself but only with my resolve to make the rest of my family happy. I actually started as soon as I returned from my Christmas visit last year which was a few days before the New Year began. As this blog celebrates it’s one year anniversary, I basically intend to do the same next year as I did last year.

I intend to have close family contact, to continue my wine at the Palms before dinner, and my wine at home with dinner, to explore the foods of the world and to eat an incredible variety of meals in the coming year while posting them on my blog. Our first adventures for the year will be soaring above the rolling hills of Western New Jersey and perhaps a white water rafting trip in Pennsylvania. I have also been trying to go on a hunt for Dinosaur Bones with my Granddaughters in Laurel, Md for about two years but the weather or other adventures has kept us from the quest.

In terms of quantifiable goals, I intend to reach 165 pounds which is 100 pounds less than my peak weight by eating portion controlled meals of whatever I desire whether it’s vegan, vegetarian or Biblically unclean foods (Shrimp, Lobster and Pork products) although I find I am not eating very much in the unclean group anymore.

After that I intend to eat as necessary to hold 165-172 which has traditionally been my “ideal weight” to look good even though I would still be classified as overweight. At the start of last year I knew what my intended goals were and far surpassed them without too much “dieting pain.”

I am told by everyone who is not my family that what has worked for me over the past year is based on poor choices. However, the combination is built around my personal social and psychological needs and without too much stress I find I can:

  1. Eat portion controlled well balanced meals for dinner
  2. Every evening, I drink about one bottle of Merlot and have done this for 40 years. This includes wine at cocktail hour and wine at home.
  3. I skip breakfast except for green tea and 1-2 pieces of fresh fruit.
  4. I drink green tea when thirsty until 3 pm and water until dinner time.
  5. After breakfast, I snack only on foods a rabbit would eat; celery, lettuce, scallions and carrots.
  6. About every 2-3 weeks, I’ll get 2 candy bars and eat both.
  7. I never deprive myself of a treat with my grandchildren like mid-day ice cream when they are with me. (About 6 times a year.)
  8. While I only eat them once a month, I never deprive myself of ethnic foods or food my mother and grandmother ate because they are not good for you. I have no strict dietary selection. I only control the amount.
  9. I exercise vigorously for 45-75 minutes five to six times a week.
  10. I have no unbreakable rules except to make up by exercising harder or eating less until I recover the ground lost while socializing.

Now the only thing that can make next year perfect is if my finances and love life improve. But only another year of my life will answer those questions.

Because I am resolving nothing I simply cannot fail.

A Celebration of Life

August 6, 2010

I'm 3/4 the Man I Used to Be.

When I first started this blog, I was aware that there was nothing special about cooking in a coffeepot, it was just a crutch to force me to make portion controlled meals that were ready to be eaten when I got home from work.  My weight at the time was about 240 and I had a hundred excuses why it would never get any lower.  When challenged by Dagny and Cait, I was 245 at Thanksgiving and had already shed 5 pounds by the first of the year.  Since that time my family has been questioning my mental health as I stick to cooking very weird and  challenging gourmet meals in my coffeepot.

Near my Maximum of 265 Pounds.

I am now down to 192 which is my lightest in 25 years and I have noticed a mental transformation in that I am starting to develop an anorexic personality.  I mean I am not happy with my current weight and I am thinking in terms of 165 as an ideal which would put me about 100 pounds lighter than my peak.  Now before anybody starts worrying about my massive weight loss, I might point out that I have finally moved from the obese weight zone to overweight and at 165, I would still be classified as overweight even though it would be tough to find any fat on my body.

Another transformation was the suffering of a stroke when I was  in excellent shape and had dropped about 30 pounds.  I find now that exercise is a passion and mostly out of fear for an unnamed  mental condition.  I would call it pelagic-phobia and its my manic fear of paralysis.  My mini stoke only left me paralyzed for an hour and I know that this is a medical condition I never want to experience again.  I am now exercising intentionally more than I ever have since 1981 when I actually ran every lunch time along the Melvin Evans Highway.  Since that only lasted a couple of months, this makes my longest continuous period of physical fitness since 1964.  I am also getting into that blue zone habit of working more around the house .

At this point in my life I am not concerned with my obsessive Fear of Paralysis or Anorexia.  It would seem that both are working together to take me on a path of  healthy longer life even if I am a little nuts.

Still Cooking – To Busy To Post

April 23, 2010

Obviously, I am still alive so I am still eating which means I am still cooking. And since I am still losing weight, I am still cooking portioned controlled meals in my coffeepot and getting mocked by my friends.  Since I am down seven inches at my waist and getting into size 36 pants for the first time in years at 208 pounds and still losing weight, I really don’t care

Besides I am eating some very good comfort food and still losing weight.  I noticed that I have missed posting on

Black eyed peas ands ham hocks

Meatloaf

Black Bean Soup

Kidney Stew

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Italian Pumpkin Soup

Borscht

Arroz con Gandules

Two really special meals on the list are the kidney stew which I did for comfort foods from my youth and it was better than stove top because it was more tender and the Arroz con Gandules because I actually solved the problem of making decent (not great but definitely not pasty) rice in a slower cooker.

St. Croix Vegetable Market

February 27, 2010

I went to the vegetable market today and it is always a pleasant neighborhood event. It used t be that the vegetables were exclusively west Indian fare because St. Croix is the better half of the Virgin Islands. In the hands of a West Indian cook, provisions are those starchy ground crops that fill the belly and make a pound of pork or one small chicken feed eight. Sometimes I cook West Indian vegetables but am more inclined to do a Crucian-American fusion which includes Latin influences as Crucian foods are already a fusion of Puerto Rico and Eastern Caribbean Foods. I also cook Traditional Italian because of family influences.

Because the population of St. Croix is growing younger and more Americanized, there is a recently created interesting in growing traditional American vegetables. Today I brought cucumbers (American) bell peppers, basil and parsley (all cultures use them) and American tomatoes. These are the best tomatoes outside fresh picked summer tomatoes in the middle Atlantic states. I also brought arugula which I am not sure why it is grown here at all but it is part of the traditional Italian summer greens and the fresh local variety is fantastic. I also brought a bag of scotch bonnet peppers which is Caribe Indian from South America in origin

I have been dreaming of a no cook dinner all day with a tomato, arugula, basil and Mozzarella salad accompanied by a tuna fish sandwich with arugula and artichoke hearts and an olive paste spored on the bread.

For those who care, the menu would list:

Insalata di Pomodori E Mozzarella (salad)

Panini al Tonno e ai Carciofini Marinati (Tuna Sandwich)

Both of these are in the Five Brothers cookbook but in the case of the Mozzarella salad, Dolores served that almost from the time we were married and I remember Dolores’ Uncle Allie making a sandwich out of almost anything.  He put a garlic or olive paste on the bread a hunk of meat and marinated artichoke hearts to top it off.  So I am sort of being reminded of foods I have eaten over the past 45 years and adapting them to “Meals for One”

Since I have nothing better to do this afternoon, I plan on working on an artistic presentation and should have some pictures and recipes for  tomorrow.

By the way the diet God’s are rooting for me as I was down to 216 today so I guess I’ll do my part and head back to the gym.

Running and Space Camp!

February 9, 2010

Two big moments in my little life today – my first attempt at jogging in about 10 years and I registered the family for Space Camp.

At first Tiffany at Space Camp thought I was nuts for wanting 4 adults to go to camp with 2 kids but why not, we have been hot air ballooning together  for the best day of one granddaughters life, para sailing for another best day of her life, white water rafting, canoeing, hiking and jet skiing (another best day). Everybody has done it all as a family unit.

At 220 pounds, my daughter sees my commitment to hit 205 and told me to book Space Camp.  This is not weakness and she’s even tougher and meaner than I am  so  I won’t screw up. We are now booked into our  next family adventure on Memorial Day Weekend unless we do another one first.  Naturally, I’ll get an official astronautics space suits for all of us.

Now running was not quite that kind of thrill and I have always hated it.  In football, the best I ran was about a 6 minute mile unless the guy had a ball and I was allowed to hurt him if I caught him.  I was told I was phenomenally fast for the first 40 yards which is about what I made today.

All kidding aside, I have my own treadmill which I occasionally use but am far more consistent when a member of a gym with a caring mentor.  To test my limit without embarrassment, I put on my heart monitor did a brisk walk for 5 minutes and pumped up the speed to 5.5 miles per hour or about 11 minutes per mile.  From around 110, my heart rate jumped to 145 and I was beat after 15 seconds.  I forced myself to keep that pace for a whole minute and then walked at half that speed for the next 15 minutes until my heart rate was under 120.   I simply don’t know what possessed me – its not required for Space Camp by either them or my daughter I just thought it would be cool to run a mile again.

Proof Positive – there is no fool like an old fool! – but this old  fool is still in good enough shape to keep having fun and I can still keep up physically with 7-10 year olds. Actually the last time I ran at all was at Fort McHenry where my granddaughter and I raced my son-in-law across the ramparts.  We both beat him.  Oh yeah he  had to carry my other granddaughter to make the race fair.

Jeri’s World Famous Curry

January 8, 2010

At a very young age Jerlyn Thomas is a very old friend. Seems the people I have know longer are starting to die so only young people I know for 10 years can be now classified as old friends. Not sure if that though classifies as morbid, ironic or not true because I have a wonderful family.

Oh well, Jeri as she is now called is a polymath who graduated from RIT in graphic design or new media design or some geeky thing and is now working in New York City and has her art posted at jerlynthomas.com where she showcases some of the big names she has designed for and her personal blog is at designladynyc.com

Now she uses her sites to document any and all new interests and when I told her I was working on Meals for One and Coffee Pot Cooking, it didn’t surprise me at all to find that she already had a personal recipe site and directed me to it (recipes.jerlynthomas.com) to share her favorite meals. Her recipe for curry jumped at me and I was so excited to try it since I had all the ingredients on hand that I forgot about taking pictures of preparations or even the finished product until I ate over half the meal.

It was that good.

Trust me this is not a “meal for one”.

Rather than have leftovers in the refrigerator to tempt me, I took the small bowl of leftovers to work for my West Indian Coworkers to try and it was unanimous with the group. This was a great recipe and I had done a good enough job of following the recipe. The minor changes to make it in the Coffee Pot did not alter the taste. It was the real deal according to the ladies.

Once again the picture of the Curry is below and the recipe, cost and calories will follow. By the way. The rice is the microwave type in the package because I like good rice and am not yet ready to try Coffee Pot rice although I have read about it on the Internet.

Sausage, Peppers & Onions

January 8, 2010

This was one of my wife’s favorite instant meals. She prepared it on the stove top and served it as an open face sandwich with grated Parmesan on top. She sliced the sausage into ½ inch chunks so it would cook faster and the onions and peppers were still a little crisp. In actuality, if we were to list the ingredients by order of weight, it should really be called a stewed plum tomatoes, sausage, onion and pepper sandwich as there is more stewed tomatoes than anything else.

The first time I tried it in the Coffee Pot Cooker, I used really cheap sausage costing $1.50 for ½ pound (2 links). The sauce was absolutely fantastic and I ate everything including both sausage links. The problem with the cheap sausage was that it really didn’t add much in the way of flavor and it broke up as I transferred it from pot to sandwich.

The recipe couldn’t be easier. Place sausage, coarse chopped onion, and chopped pepper in the coffeepot, cover with a can of stewed plum tomatoes with basil and oregano. Sprinkle a little oregano and pepper on the top of the pot and turn it on.

Honestly, I have never tasted a better blending in of flavors and was sorry I used the cheap sausage. I did it over with good sausage and took good pictures of the process. This will be posted later along with the calories and cost as I catch up on writing and do meals a second or third time.