Archive for the ‘Weight loss’ Category

Hello World 2.0

December 3, 2010

Lemon Grass Three Months Old

Time flies when your having fun but nothing shows how long it’s been since I have written about food like the growth in my Lemon Grass bed which was photographed as newly replanted in my last post. I had visits to my home by my granddaughters alone for two weeks where we hiked, swam and cooked every day and they played with all the challenges at my house. Then my daughter Dagny, her husband Carson and another friend came to the house along with my niece Cait and we cooked, hiked and swam. One of my favorite hikes was to Annely Bay which is from the top of the mountain and drops 1100 feet to the Bay over a 2 ½ mile trail and then back up. Going down is always easy.

I also went to Marbel Head and visited my other granddaughter Pippa and her parents, Andrew and Lauren. We had a great time and I was fascinated that a 3 year old could completely use and control her parents iPad actually mostly her Mothers

I also published two Children’s books for Kindle. Pippa and her iPad is about my 3 year old Granddaughter and her computer literacy the other is Mother Goose, A picture Book for Kindle. The purpose of these books is to develop picture books for young readers so they can accept that the kindle is actually a book and get used to the device. It’s amazing but most Kindle Books that claim to be illustrated are not.

I love my Kindle and it’s easy for my old eyes to read without strain even by candlelight. Writing the books taught me how to control graphics in a Kindle format so I can proceed with a cookbook. The Kindle is perfect size to uses as a cookbook on a counter while cooking and it never runs out of power and is very light. It also stays open to the proper page without breaking the binding as happens with a physical cookbook.

I had another family visit from my sister, her daughter, son-in-law and grandson. It was fantastic and of course I cooked with Zack, and went hiking and sailing and swimming. It was a great visit.

Coffee Pot Cooking

It’s only about 11 months since I started cooking in my coffeepot and reading and writing about food and I have to admit I have become a little compulsive about what I eat and how I am cooking it. The good news is that I am now 60 pounds lighter than I was last Thanksgiving.

Also, I have also been researching two food related projects which I will discuss in the future, but for now, I am going to be catching up on surfing for recipes and publishing on meals for one, coffeepot cooking and everything that’s been going on for the past three months.

Italian Flag Salad

August 18, 2010

Italian Flag Salad

I like playing with my food so made this salad with ingredients traditionally used in Italy and made it in the style of the Italian Flag. I made a Polish flag salad which had balanced flavors of a cottage cheese salad with pickled beets which was pleasant. While this might be another clever idea for a salad, it is defiantly not for wimps.

Recipe:

Green Section:

sliced Romaine and Iceberg lettuce.

White section:

1 cup cottage cheese with 1 small diced onion and celery stalk

Three marinated artichoke hearts on top of the salad

crumbled Gorgonzola sprinkled on top

Red Section

Tuna Salad

3 oz tuna fish

½ teaspoon horseradish

½ teaspoon crushed garlic

½ Tablespoon soy sauce

Mix all ingredients until well blended

Overlay with red pimento

I loved the flavor of this bold tuna salad so I expect you will see more of that as a protein source with vegetarian soups for dinner. I served the red and green parts of the salad with marinated artichoke hearts and black olives to some of our family friends at my daughter’s house and was worried about overdoing it with bold flavors. Everybody loved it and several asked for recipes.

My daughter and I cook bold for ourselves, our families and our friends and they keep coming back for more so I guess we are doing OK.

Another Simply Beautiful Salad

August 12, 2010

Simply Beautiful Salad

Most people never learn that a salad can be a lot more than shredded lettuce, pink hothouse tomato slices and wilted limp cucumber slices. Italians and Greeks seem to have gotten the message and serve the most creative and unnamed combinations as Greek Salad or Antipasto. My wife was from the Italian school by heritage and so creative salads were always present.

In season, I prefer the richness of fresh Tomatoes to the bland flavor of Roasted Red Peppers from a jar but the peppers are preferred to hothouse tomatoes. With tomatoes on hand, I prefer fresh mozzarella for the subtle flavor that balances tomatoes. With the bland roasted red bell peppers, I prefer a Cottage Cheese and Gorgonzola topping.

Cheese and Gorgonzola Recipe:

1 cup cottage cheese

1 diced small onion

1 diced stick of celery

2 oz Gorgonzola crumbs

Mix everything together. Slice Romain lettuce across the stem in ½ inch slices and spread around the plate. Place pimento slices on top and then scoop as much of the cottage cheese as you would like on the plate. Another unusual, flavorful and beautiful combination.

Near Perfect Pea Soup

August 9, 2010

Creamy Pea Soup

When it comes to comfort foods, noting beats pea soup on a rainy day. Our mothers both made it and made it about the same. The both strived for a rich creamy texture and built the soup around an old ham bone which contributed to the richness. Of course Dolores’ Mother added more meat and Carrots whereas my mom cooking for six instead of three, used less meat and included dumplings to add some substance to the soup. Dolores hated dumplings so I learned to leave them out and include carrots.

Now forget about dumplings in a coffeepot, they are hard enough to do on a stove top where you can turn up the heat but I suppose one day, I will give it a try just to see if it can be done. But for now I just wanted to see how close I could come to our mothers pea soup in terms of texture and flavor and yes, this soup started life as a vegan meal before I kicked it up a notch by adding Turkey Ham to get the flavor I am used to.

Recipe:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Chopped onion

2 cloves minced garlic

2 stalks diced celery

1 bay leaf

1 thin slice scotch bonnet hot pepper

½ teaspoon Thyme

½ teaspoon Rosemary

1 Tablespoon Parsley

Separate the can of peas add the liquid to the pot and mash the peas with a potato masher.

1 can 14.5 oz Vegetable broth. Or if adding turkey ham, use chicken broth.

4 oz Turkey Ham

Now as the ingredient list shows, there is no major change in the ingredients from the vegetarian pea soup other than the Turkey Ham, the biggest change was in the processing and the Peas. Other than my old standby Cruzan Rum, I rarely go out of my way to buy a specific brand of almost any product although I do read the labels and as I said last time avoid anything with sugar added. I usually buy the generic brand because I never see much of a difference.

Libby's Naturals Sweet Peas

This time I stumbled upon a can of “Libby’s Naturals” Sweet Peas that are just peas and water with nothing else added to enhance flavor or improve the color over what God provided.
The other major change was that when I separated the peas and water, I held back the water because it really doesn’t have that much flavor and put the peas in a blender with the broth and liquified the peas. The soup had perfect consistency in line with our family traditions but if you like it thinner, you can add some back to the pot about an hour or so before you want to serve it.

I tested the soup about 2 hours before I wanted to eat it and it was great. However, at this point I succumbed to the call of the turkey ham screaming from my refrigerator to make the soup perfect. I added about 4 ounces of turkey ham and let it cook for 2 more hours.

The end result was fantastic, but I’m not sure it was perfect. Maybe that’s the purest in me coming out and I believe it cant be perfect unless it’s made from dry beans and you suffer over the pot for a day hoping that the beans will completely break down into the rich creamy texture desired by dinnertime.

As described above, the vegetarian meal has about about 300 calories and the turkey ham only adds about 150 more with about 40 fat calories. Since I’m not a purest about any food fads and eat most anything, I don’t think the 40 fat calories will do more damage than the bottle of wine I consumed with the meal.

Egg Salad Sandwiches are not Terrible and they Taste Good.

August 7, 2010

I found out a long time ago that if I have to do paperwork, I should drink coffee as it slows down my ADHD and allows me to focus on mental instead of physical activity. I also walk away from my desk and snack. Over the long haul I can gain tremendous amounts of weight when I am a dedicated desk jokey.

Egg Salad on Wheat Bread with Pepper and Paprika

Yesterday, I snacked on carrots, celery and my 3 oz can of tuna fish during the course of the day and drove around to do errands at the various government agencies whenever I needed a break. I also skipped exercise because I just didn’t feel like it. For dinner, I hard boiled three eggs and made an egg salad sandwich on titty bread. I just had to load up on my fat, carbs and cholesterol. The diet Gods rewarded me by dropping a pound to 191.

Actually, I suspect it might be that my snacks are much healthier than they used to be and perhaps a little dehydration because when I don’t exercise, I don’t drink a lot of fluids other than my daily bottle of red wine and enough coffee to slow me down.

The last time I did egg salad was last year so I am not too stressed about overloading on fat, carbs and cholesterol as the total meal comes in at 1000 calories and as pointed out in that post, the new evidence suggests that eggs in moderation are not unhealthy. Besides as pointed out in that post, the total meal is cheep costing less than $1.50.

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.

I like Playing With My Food!

July 30, 2010

Polish Flag Salad

When I was a kid, I can remember my mother yelling at us to, “Stop playing with your food and eat it. There are children starving in China” I never did understand the connection but took it to be some dire form of warning. Since I was always hungry as a child there was little chance that I would skip many meals so it really didn’t apply to me. In my teenage years when my dad was working two jobs, Mom started to cook things that she liked and could afford instead of meat and potatoes. I remember my initial rejection of cottage cheese, pea soup and anything with beets and my brothers and sister hated kidneys.

My Mother stopped warning us about children starving in China when someone told her to pack it up and send it to China because they would rather starve than eat what was being served. Now I started to like cottage cheese because it was one of the few things I could snack on when I went on the first Stillman diet 40 years ago. As I said before, I started to like beats when Tracey and I developed a pleasant recipe for a very good Borscht.

I don’t really love beets enough to eat them by choice aside from Borscht, but decided to play with my food. I think my pretty salad the other night inspired me to think of other ways to make attractive salads and the green white and read jumped at me because these are the same colors that appear in the Italian flag and it is fairly easy to concieve of a salad sculpted to look like an Italian flag using only foods that an Italian might eat on a regular basis.

Than I began to wonder how many other salads could be made to look like the flag of a nation using the traditional foods of that country. Immediately two others came to mid and as a tribute to my mother, I made my first Flag Salad a Polish Flag.

Chopped Celery and Onions

White Cottage Cheese

I chopped some whitish celery hearts and half a small onion and mixed with with one cup cottage cheese. For those who don’t know cottage cheese or pot cheese is indigenous to central Europe where it was developed and I also have a recipe for Polish Noodles and Cottage Chees which I could have also used as the white top part of the flag.

Pickled beets Recipe

1 can of sliced beets well drained

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup white cider vinegar

1 small onion sliced into rings (not used in this salad added for flavor)

Polish Flag

The Polish Flag Salad Platter

I used a base or Romain cut into a 2 to 1 rectangle and placed my cottage cheese salad at the top and then placed the red beets for color on the bottom.

I am sure if I were either more patient or a better photographer, you would have noticed an even more stunning resemblance to the Polish Flag. The cottage cheese and pickled beets was a nice combination.

I called my friend Tracey and we talked about the concept. Tracey thinks out of the box so came up with different colored foods to expand my potential easy designs to more than six so I can keep playing with my food. Sorry Mom, your son is playing with his food and the Chinese are prospering. It’s a whole new world order.

Anybody that wants to can join the fun. Send me a link to your best flag. I have half a dozen more to go in the next few weeks so I will keep having fun playing with my food.

Salad, a Work of Art?

July 26, 2010

A Beautiful Healthy Salad

I could pay tribute to my daughter Dagny and name this salad after her because she called yesterday and asked about my diet and restarted healthy for me. I’m still below 198 but that’s up a couple of pounds from my low. I blamed the weather for a lack of exercise, a craving for Caribbean pork and beans, in addition to mangoes being in season and cheap, about 40 cents each for a perfectly ripe, one pound, Julie Mango. You can get fat off fresh fruit. She also drew out of me that maybe I’m drinking more and packing in some bigger meals and eating the leftovers. Just like every good Mother on earth, she just seems to know when people are being bad.

Well Dagny didn’t waste a breath lecturing me. She just declared that when she comes to visit me at the end of August, she wants to take her Daughters and Carson to the bottom of Annaly Bay. This is a strenuous walk for people in really good shape. It’s about 2 mile down to the Bay and then another half mile up and down the coast line to visit an old mill and a tidal pool carved into the rock by wave action where the bold can go for a swim. And now that you are tired and fatigued by the hot sun, it’s time to turn around and go back up.

The last time I went I was 50 pounds heavier and it darn near killed me. So this time I’m going to be in shape for the walk. I cleaned off my tread mill and did a half hour work out at the maximum incline and decided on the salad above for dinner. Not bad, I covered 1.5 miles and lost a pound overnight returning to 197. Dagny has rejuvenated me.

The salad is simplicity itself.

  1. Tear the crisp young pieces of the romaine lettuce discarding the tops and stems.
  2. Lay them on the plate in a leaf pattern.
  3. Cut flame roasted red bell peppers in a petal pattern and place on the romaine.
  4. The center is artichoke hearts covered with Gorgonzola cheese.
  5. Place the black olives around the white center.
  6. I used a sprig of Basil because I ran out of peppers to complete my design.

Of course the pretty salad comes with another story. Monica who has a beautiful Indian Food Blog visited me so naturally, I did the return visit and the food pictures were spectacular with a true professional presentation. If any of the cookbook companies wanted to outsource their picture taking, they could do a lot worse than hiring Monica. If you love food of any kind, a visit to her site is worth your time. I doubt that I could find all of the ingredients to cook Indian food, but I said that same thing about Thai food and then found all the ingredients.

I was determined to make my meal as pretty as hers but also takes note she blacks out the background and makes the title dish the star. That’s just a little extra effort for a better picture. Also notice she seems to have solved the problem of making white on white foods attractive with flowers, herb sprigs and sauce accompanying the main dish. Truly a job well done and I could pay tribute to her and name it Monica’s Salad.

Of course then there is Uncle Allie who I met 45 years ago and who made sandwiches and salads out of the most unusual combination of ingredients arranged in the most attractive way. Since I was really not familiar with Italian food at the time, I would always ask what he called a particular combination and his answer was always the same, “It’s a salad, just a salad.”

Your choice, “Dagny’s Healthy Salad”, “Monica’s Pretty Salad” or “Uncle Allie’s Just a Salad”.

Is Potato Salad a Diet Food???

July 14, 2010

Potato Salad served with Short Ribs

When it comes to food, I am not striving for a perfect diet because I am not sure that that a perfectly balanced diet exists. After all it’s mathematically imprecise to believe that with thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands of diet advocates in the world that they can all be right. Thank God the debate over a perfect diet has not degenerated to the point of the abortion debate or the search for a Perfect Religion, or people would be shooting gluttons and blowing up swine factories.

Now with that out of the way, I have to admit that I made Potato Salad four times this year and while I have learned to scale it down to one potato, this is more summer time convenience food than wholesome diet food. I mean you take a perfectly good potato and in some way smother it in grease.

Potatoes are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese. Of course the quarter cup of mayonnaise has 360 calories all from fat which is 60% of your daily requirement for fat and 16% of sodium before the salt was added to the dressing.

Now not wanting to incite the food Nazi’s, I will remind all that there is a constant potato salad debate over hot or cold, white or yellow, and what ingredients to use. When you Google “Potato Salad Recipe” there are over five million recipes on line so I’m not sure the world needed my contribution. Then I discovered when you search for a coffeepot “potato salad recipe” there are only 2000 cited references and not a single one tells you how to do it so here is the recipe and method for all the senior citizens, college students and others who are living alone and cooking “meals for one”.

In my mind there really is no debate over the proper potato salad recipe. My mother made the basic white potato salad and I learned to love it.

Ingredients:

I medium Potato

½ teaspoon salt

1 small onion diced

¼ cup finely diced celery

1 Tablespoon fresh dill

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

½ Teaspoon salt

pepper to taste

This is pretty much the recipe from the Idaho Potato Commission which was highlighted as a recipe of the week at gourmetspot.com. Preparation is rather easy.

Cookingn the Potatoes

Peal and cube the potato and place in the coffee pot with about ½ teaspoon salt. Run 10 cups of water through the coffee maker and let cook for 2-3 hours.

Cooked Potatoes

Drain the potatoes and let cool. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Diced Celery Onion and Dill

While the potatoes were cooking there is plenty of time to dice the celery and onion and pull the small dill leaves from the stems. I used the celery heart because I like the flavor and that is the yellow diced vegetable on the plate.

The sauce was mixed separately and poured over the combined potatoes, celery, onions and dill. The bowl of all ingredients was carefully mixed so as not to mash the potatoes. The tendency to overcook the potatoes and end up with a mess is greater on the hotter stove top than it is in the coffeepot. As shown in the introductory picture, I served it with short ribs which is sort of a summer match in my mind; the old classic of ribs, corn on the cob and potato salad, the comfort foods of my youth although my Mother’s ribs were always swine.

While I don’t feel terribly guilty about over indulging myself with fatty foods on occasion, I misplaced my white potato salad recipe and took it as a sign from the gods that I should tone down my fat consumption.

I found a recipe for yellow potato salad which I have since misplaced but fortunately kept notes on what I did. The recipe is essentially the same, except three Tablespoons of Mayonnaise and one of Mustard are used in the sauce.

Since there are only 4 Tablespoons in a ¼ cup, this really is not a whole lot healthier so I reverted back to my shamefully decadent white potato salad the next two times I made it. Now I am down almost 50 pounds so I am not worried about a bad food choice once in awhile – that is, if I believed there was anything really wrong with the potato salad I ate every summer of my life until I left my Mother’s Home.

Anybody Can Cook Spaghetti and Meatballs

July 3, 2010

Angel Hair Pasta and Meatballs

When you start cooking,  it is best to start  with a simple meal anybody can cook and one of the simplest is Spaghetti and Meatballs. Since my youth, there has been vast improvement in the flavor of prepared foods and reductions in cooking time. Making an excellent Tomato sauce was once an all day job, while making meatballs was a messy, time consuming, pain in the rear and only the pasta was good off the shelf. Today a great meal can be made with off the shelf items and a little attention to the details.

I prepared the above “meal for one” in a hurry but still wanted something good to eat. I had leftover Italian Red Sauce which was reheated on the stove top and was originally Bertolli which is a reasonably good brand that you could serve to Italian friends and get away with it. The meatballs are from the freezer and since I was in a hurry, I microwaved them following the directions on the bag before adding them to the sauce. The sauce would take two hours to reach cooking temperature in the coffeepot but took a lot less on the stove top.

I added more basil to the sauce when I first made it because I like the flavor and it grows in an herb garden outside my house. I also added additional garlic for a richer flavor and aroma, These adjustments introduced a personal factor and make the sauce “mine”. Now that my daughter has suggested I shake the weird factor of the coffeepot and use more normal appliances in cooking, I could use my new small Crockpot, just for the presentation value especially if I have more than two hours to cook the sauce and the time to watch it and stir it away from the heated walls.

The pasta is angel hair but I also like tortellini, gemelli and many more which if you pay attention and follow the directions on the package, all turn out fine.

After a month in America, I owe a few people a favor when I get back home and I’ll probably cook them a meal. I’ll use my new Crockpot for the Tomato Sauce which should be OK because all it has to do is keep everything hot until it is being served. The pasta, I’ll cook on the stove top.

Good solid food without the weird factor but also more than enough for a few people. If I use the small Crockpot just for me, I’ll either end up with leftovers or eat the whole pot. The truth when it comes to eating is;

My will power to eat is still stronger than my won’t power to stop.

My urge to be morbidly obese is still strong as I have never been repulsed by Jabba the Hutt as a role model.