Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Grub’ Category

Making up a recipe (modified after making)

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I’ve made a few changes to the original, based on what I learned in the first making.

I cooked red kale and collards in my usual way: stems minced, leaves chopped small, with a little vinegar and a little fish sauce, simmered/steamed in a little water for 30 minutes or so. After it was done, I drained it and refregerated it. So that’s in the fridge now, waiting to be used, and I was mulling over how to use it. Rice would do for the starch, and I suddenly thought of eggs to bind the thing together and also take care of the protein. So here’s what I came up with.

First, I’ll cook 1 c brown rice in 2 cups water with a pinch of salt and a tsp of olive oil.

Then, into a sauté pan:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch chopped scallions spring shallots (just remember I had them), including the green part

Sauté that for a while, then add:

4-6 cloves garlic, minced
about 1/2 cup chopped celery

When that’s cooked, put it in the bottom of a largish casserole. Top that with

the cooked rice in a layer — stir some sherry and soy or fish sauce and vinegar into the rice to disperse flavors
a layer of chopped tomatoes (I have some I have to use up)
salt and pepper the tomato layer

With a fork, whisk 4-6 eggs and perhaps whip in a little milk to increase volume and thin it out some—but not much. You can add a dash of hot sauce and/or Worcestershire to the eggs. You can stir in shredded mozarella, or sprinkle it over the top, or both (double-cheese).

Bake at 350ºF until set.

I would normally add hot sauce to the eggs, but The Wife will be eating this, so I’ll add my hot sauce onto my own serving.

UPDATED as I explore fridge and thought about it. I’m going to bake this in the same 4-qt sauté pan I’m using to cook the shallots.

Written by Leisureguy

16 July 2013 at 9:53 am

Exceptionally good melange

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I made a particularly good melange (aka grub) today:

In 6-qt pot, put:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 large Spanish onions, chopped
good pinch of salt

Sauté until onions are soft and transparent and about to brown. Add:

1 small can tomato paste

Continue to sauté a minute or two to brown the tomato paste a bit. This beefs up the taste a lot. Then add:

1.5 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 jewel yam, diced
1 c chopped celery
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 Japanese eggplant, diced
1 large carrot diced

Sauté a few moments, stirring, then add:

1 c red wine
1 c water
1 package frozen yellow corn kernels
1 package frozen chopped spinach
1-2 Tbsp gochujang sauce (I just dipped it out of the tub with the spatula; probably 3 Tbsp, now that I think about it.)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 good-sized bunch of red kale, rinsed well, stems minced, leaves chopped
1 Meyer lemon, unpeeled and diced
12 kumquats, cut into thirds
good grinding of black pepper

Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add:

12 oz sockeye salmon, skin on, cut into chunks (I used frozen that I thawed)
12 oz swordfish, ditto all the way
1/4 c chia seed (to thicken it somewhat)

Stir in the fish and chia, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes. Turn off heat: it’s done.

Man, is it tasty! Excellent bitterness from the citrus peel.

I think I might add some diced spicy linguiça, since I have some on hand—1/2 c or so.

Written by Leisureguy

5 December 2012 at 2:44 pm

Two really excellent things

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One is the movie Rango, which I just watched again. It is chock full of tidbits for movie fans, with fleeting references to dozens of films.

UPDATE: I should add that the animation is stunning, with a certain number of shots made (I think) to display virtuosity: wind in feathers/hair, refraction through water, and so on. And the vocal characterizations are top notch, and no wonder: Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy, Ray Winstone, Ned Beatty, and so on.

The other is the Melange I made this evening: really spectacular.

First, cook 1 c hulled barley in 2 c water until done (about 45 min). No water should remain.

In the 6-qt pot:

• 3-4 Tbsp olive oil (2 of them were olive oil from the bottle of anchovies)
• 2 medium-large Spanish onions, chopped
• Salt and freshly ground pepper

Sauté until onion is softening and starting to caramelize. Add:

• 1 can hickory-smoked Spam, diced
• 8 oz hickory-smoked tempeh, diced

Sauté for a while, then add:

• 12-15 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 c chopped celery
• 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
• 2 large carrots, diced
• 1 enormous zucchini, diced
• 1 bitter melon, diced
• 3 Japanese eggplant, diced
• good dollop (~4 Tbsp) gochujang (from the Asian market trip)
• 1 bunch fresh enoki mushrooms, chopped

Sauté that for a while, then add

• the cooked whole-grain barley
• 5 largish Roma tomatoes, diced
• 1 large Meyer lemon, diced whole
• large handful dried black cloud ear mushrooms, chopped (I actually used shears)
• 5-6 large pieces wakame dried seaweed, chopped (shears here as well)
• 1 large bunch collards, stems minced, leaves chopped
• 2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
• 3-4 Tbsp sherry vinegar
• 1/4 c Amontillado sherry

Cover and simmer 30 minutes, then add:

• 2 thawed mackerel fillets, bones removed (with my special tweezers) but skin left on, and cut into large chunks (another prize from the Asian market)

Stir those in, cover, and simmer 5 minutes, turn off heat and let rest for 10 minutes.

I think that’s everything, but I’ll update if I remember anything I forgot.

Wonderfully delicious with wonderful textures. The mackerel is a VERY big winner.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2012 at 6:56 pm

Morning report

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I finally got a complete good night’s sleep, my first since returning home. (I’ve been waking up at 7:00 a.m., which isn’t bad, but 7:00 a.m. East Coast time, and I live on the West Coast: 4:00 a.m. here. 😦

But this morning, though I went to bed early, I slept well the entire night and awakened at a reasonable hour.

I’ve also continued to some degree the holiday eating pattern, but today I’m making a batch of Mike’s Melange and will get back in step with my regular diet, which is more moderate and more healthful. My planned recipe (and I’ll revisit and update after I make it; NOW UPDATE):

In 6-qt pot (it may be fit within the 4-qt pot, but the greens are bulky when first added):

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 enormous spring onion (about the size of a large Spanish onion), chopped
good-sized pinch of salt

Sauté until softened and starting to brown, then continue to sauté, adding:

2 Tbsp smoked paprika
good sprinkling crushed red pepper
several grindings of black pepper
15 minced garlic cloves

After a minute, add:

1 medium zucchini, diced
3/4 cup (more or less) chopped celery
1 wad slivered sun-dried tomatoes (these are not in oil, just plain)
1 qt green beans (I got the quart of green beans as a free side-dish for a supermarket rotisserie chicken, but the beans were not really cooked—something I often experience these days (insufficiently cooked green beans), so I chopped them up some and dumped them all into the Melange.)

After that’s cooked a while:

2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp shoyu sauce
2 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 c water

Got that hot, then added:

1/3 c. Penzeys dried red bell pepper
1 bunch green curly-leaf kale, stems minced, leaves chopped small
1 bunch collards, stems minced, leaves chopped small
1 large Meyer lemon, ends cut off and discarded, then diced (with peel)
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half (stretches the olives plus checks for pits)

Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, then add:

3/4 c Barilla Plus penne pasta

Cover and simmer for 5 minutes then add:

12 oz cod (was frozen, now thawed) cut into chunks
8 oz coho salmon (was frozen, now thawed) cut into chunks

Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes.

That’s the plan, at any rate. Should make 5-6 meals.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2012 at 8:40 am

The trip, the return, and feeling at home, with kitties

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The cat above is Harry Houdini, a Norwegian Forest cat wearing his summertime fur. He is watching birds, and he lives with the The Eldest and The Older Grandsons.

I was somewhat timorous about the trip, but all went well, and it was a great pleasure spending time with everyone. I need only say that I returned about 14 lbs heavier than when I left—5 Guys is a terrific hamburger place, among other things.

I have, however, resumed my regular diet, and two of those pounds are gone already and the rest shall shortly follow. Last night I made grub, renamed now Mike’s Melange by popular request, and it tends to be low-calorie, plus I’ve gone back to one bowl per meal and the no-bites rule.

Here’s last night’s:

In 4-qt pot, I poured in about 1.5 Tbsp olive oil, then sautéed

1/2 an enormous spring onion
12 or so cloves of garlic
two chopped jalapeños
1 chopped Anaheim pepper
1-2 Tbsp smoked paprika
several grindings black pepper

Once that had cooked down, I added:

3/4 cup chopped celery (more or less: I don’t really measure)
1-1.5 c cooked black rice
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 large red bell pepper, minced
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 c Amontillado sherry
3 Tbsp mirin
1/2 c water

I brought that to a brisk simmer, stirred, and added:

1 bunch Russian red kale, chopped small, stems minced
1 bunch collards, chopped small, stems minced
1/2 package frozen chopped spinach

After 30 minutes, it seem a little liquidy, so I added some chia to thick it up.

1/3 c chia seed
3/4 lb fresh salmon, cut into chunks, skin on

I cooked that 10 minutes, let sit a a while, then had one bowl of it for dinner. Very tasty and plenty for later meals.

Yesterday I was pretty much a zombie: besides flying back to SFO from Philadelphia, then riding down to Pacific Grove in The Wife’s new car (she drove), I had stayed up past midnight, then arose at 5:00 a.m. I did break down for a nap at one point, but had trouble thinking.

Today I feel much better: to bed at a reasonable hour, and awoke at 4:00 a.m. but didn’t get up until 5:00. Obviously my wake-up time is still on the East Coast, but it will straighten out soon.

The exciting news is that Megs and Molly are now sharing the entire apartment during the day (though for the sake of their nerves, Megs is shut into my bedroom at night). They now wander the apartment together—not exactly side by side, but in close tandem, with Molly observing closely every move Megs makes, and Megs (rather deliberately, it seemed) playing happily with Molly’s toys on the living room floor as Molly watched/glared at her from above, on the back of the couch. But there was only one brief hissing match the entire day. They are rapidly becoming accustomed to the idea that there’s another kitty around and the transition from being threatened to being interested is well underway. I will note that Megs pretty much explores as she wants (though she won’t pass too closely by Molly), whereas Molly mostly follows Megs around—but yesterday Molly felt comfortable enough to retire to The Wife’s bedroom for a nap while Megs played.

Besides Mike’s Melange, I made a GOPM for The Wife:

In 2.25-qt Staub cast-iron round cocotte, layers beginning at bottom:

1/2 leek, sliced thinly
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup Lundberg California Basmati rice
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
3/4 lb fresh salmon (without the skin), cut into chunks
soy sauce
1/2 large red pepper, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1″ sections

Pour-over was

2 Tbsp Bragg’s Vinagrette
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp sweet paprika

I shook it well in a little jar, then poured over the top, covered the pot, and cooked it at 450ºF for 45 minutes.

She says it’s tasty.

Written by Leisureguy

3 October 2012 at 8:58 am

Grub mistake

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I had a good idea for a grub: the usual onion, garlic, and celery, augmented with a leek, a red bell pepper, three jalapeño peppers,  and a zucchini, with pork, half a head of red cabbage, and a bunch of kale, with wild rice for the starch. All to the good, but then I diced a couple of apples and it became way too sweet. I like savory, and I think it would have been good without the apple. Oh, well: live and learn.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2012 at 5:38 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Grub

Reconsidering GOPM vs. Grub

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I actually did end up enjoying last night’s GOPM more than my initial impression would suggest: the chipotle was a saving grace. But as I ate it, I thought of all the vegetables and greens that I had omitted for space reasons that would have made it into the dish prepared as grub (in a bigger pot). I think today I’ll cook those, then add the remainder of the GOPM to the pot to make a more vegetable-heavy meal. One certainly does get good vegetables with GOPMs, but the ratio of vegetables to the protein and starch in a grub is higher.

So, although the grub is more work to cook, I think I like the proportions better for me—plus by cooking a larger quantity, I can get more meals from a single cooking session. But I don’t mind repeating a meal; some don’t even want to have something for dinner that they had for lunch. So this is YMMV.

Written by Leisureguy

18 August 2012 at 7:53 am

Posted in Food, GOPM, Grub

Food thoughts

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Steve of Kafeneio has an interesting post in which he comments on weight loss:

Diets and exercise regimes often turn into ‘isms. It’s painful to read the research on obesity and realize that the failure rate is around 98% (98% of people who lose weight regain it and more, within 18 months). It turns out that the 2% who succeed are those who turn dieting and fitness into ‘isms, often to the exclusion of almost all other activities. They become obsessed with their bodies, counting every calorie and gram of fat or carbohydrate, spend hours at the gym, and eventually only associate with others within their “cult” of body worship.

This interested me because I have some experience in this arena, and I don’t fit either of the two categories that he recognizes. First, I have not regained the weight I lost (much less gained more). I did gain 23 lbs from my low, but then simply applied the skills I had learned in the process of losing 80 lbs, and let the weight drop as it will if I eat right and do some walking. As of this morning, I’m at 176.6, down from the 192.9 of 10 May. (Average: 1.36 lbs/week lost. Seems to be the rate I lose.)

I don’t find that I’m obsessed with my body, nor do I count calories or grams of fat or carbohydrates, nor spend hours at the gym. Indeed, I don’t even go to the gym, though I did get Pilates instruction for some months—but that was for strength, flexibility, and balance, not for weight loss.

I have to say that I don’t think I could or would follow the path he describes, but he clearly sees only the two alternatives.

You’ve seen me cook grub: very little measuring, and no calorie counting at all. I guess I do measure when I cook rice—I want the proportion of rice and water right. And I do look how much the protein weighs, since I look for 3-4 oz per meal. And when I eat it, I use a bowl as the measure: one bowl full at lunch, 1-2 bowls at dinner, depending. The oil I use in cooking the grub I now measure by eye, and for a 6-qt batch it looks to me like 2-3 Tbsp. I use a light hand with the starch (type 2 diabetic), but I think of it in servings rather than grams: I usually add enough so that I get a little less than full serving of starch per meal, and I favor starches that take time to digest. Sometimes I don’t even measure them: if I’m using a jewel yam for the starch, I just pick a nice-sized yam and dice it into the grub.

My approach is pretty relaxed, but I do feel I know what I’m doing and the results bear me out. The bounce to 192.9 lbs after hitting goal was simply because I started indulging myself. That was more or less to see if I could get away with it, and I can’t, so I’m back to sensible eating. But I’m not obsessive, and I continue to enjoy the food.

Next batch I’m using Brussels sprouts for one of the greens, possibly spinach for the other. And for protein I have a pack of tempeh, but I’ll also cook some black beans (soaking now) and have black rice along with the beans: more protein. The usual onion, garlic, Serrano pepper, and a selection of vegetables (yellow squash, maybe some frozen corn, canned tomatoes). All of that added to the pot and cooked together. I don’t feel as though I’m in the grip of an ‘ism, I’m simply eating a mostly-plant-based diet with a focus on foods that I know are rich in nutrients and l0w in calories. Measurement and obsession seem quite remote.

There’s something missing in Steve’s analysis.

Written by Leisureguy

2 August 2012 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Fitness, Food, Grub

Interesting food notes

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I don’t know how much credence to give this, but it is interesting and certainly fits with my own eating preferences (as you know from my grub recipes):

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2012 at 6:59 pm

A good word for grub (in effect)

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I continue to make batches of grub—a mix of some protein, some starch, a little oil, and a varied mix of vegetables: for example, onions, garlic, zucchini/summer squash, beans (green or cooked dried), eggplant, tomatoes, and always at least one kind of greens and often two—greens are the heart of the meal. I could cook each food in a separate pot and arrange them on a plate, but being practical/lazy, I normally cook them all in a single pot as a sort of thick semi-stew. While its appearance is … understated?, the taste is excellent, plus I know that I’m getting a well-balanced meal.

And, it turns out, grub (or at any rate, such a varied mix) has other benefits as well, as reported by Allison Aubrey on NPR:

There’s no magic elixir for healthy aging, but here’s one more thing to add to the list: good gut health.

study published in the latest issue ofNature finds diet may be key to promoting diverse communities of beneficial bacteria in the guts of older people.

To evaluate this, researchers analyzed the microbiota, or gut bacteria, of 178 older folks, mostly in their 70s and 80s.

Some of the people were living in their own homes, and their diets were rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, grains, poultry and fish.

Others were living in long-term care facilities or nursing homes where the typical diet was much less varied. “Mashed potato and porridge were the only staples in this diet type that were consumed daily,” explains Paul O’Toole of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at University College Cork in Ireland. Meals were supplemented with puddings, cookies and sugar-sweetened beverages such as tea.

O’Toole’s team found that people living independently, who had the most diverse diets, also had more varied gut bacteria. And they also scored better on clinical tests measuring frailty and cognitive function. In other words, “they were healthier older people,” says O’Toole.

There may be many factors at play here, but O’Toole thinks diet is key. “We were surprised that the correlations between microbiota and health came out so strongly,” O’Toole says.

There’s an explosion of research into the gut microbiome as scientists fine-tune methods to analyze bacteria in the gut, and with that comes an emerging body of evidence that diversity of gut bacteria is important. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2012 at 9:38 am

Yet another two-greens, two-fish grub, with okra

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The 6-qt, wide-diameter pot, not overfilled this time (but pretty full)

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cioppilini onions, chopped
3 Serrano peppers, sliced thinly
salt, freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp smoked Spanish paprika (from Penzeys)

Sautéed a while, then added:

1/3 cup minced fresh garlic
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 medium diced yellow crookneck squash
1 wad slivered tomatoes
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 large handful okra, cap removed, sliced—about 1 cup
1 jewel yam, diced (remembered to get jewel this time: much oranger than the Garnet)
1 15-oz can S&W Pinquitos (pink beans, chili peppers, onion, cumin, and garlic, with the liquid)
8 oz frozen yellow corn kernels (half a 1-lb bag)
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar (using it up, little by little)
1/4 c sherry
3/4 c zinfandel
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Taste #5 umami paste—and I don’t think I’ll get it again: too expensive. I can get umami in cheaper ways.

After that simmered about 5-10 minutes, I added:

1 bunch collards, rinsed well, stems minced, leaves cut in strips then crosswise to chop
1 bunch red kale, rinsed well, stems minced, leaves cut across and then some cuts long ways

Both bunches of greens were good size, but not enormous. I let that simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with my wooden spatula and scraping the bottom of the pot, then added:

6 fresh sardines, filleted and cut into chunks across (.87 lb before cleaning)
1 sockeye salmon fillet, cut into chunks (.86 lb)

I stirred that in, simmered 10 minutes more, then turned off heat and let it sit to finish cooking the fish.

Sardines were prepared one by one: gut it, cut off its head, rinse under cold running water, and pull off fins. When all were ready, I filleted each by running my forefinger along the spine on one side, turned it over, and ran my forefinger along the spine on the other side, then discarded spine and tail. I easily cut the entire stack across into chunks.

The sockeye salmon required some pulling of bones (I got the front half of the fillet), but I have tweezers specifically for pulling fish bones and I’ve learned that a slow, steady pull works well: it took no time to speak of. I probably could have left the bones in—they are, in effect, edible, but I decided to take them out. Also included was the skin from the sockeye salmon fillet piece the woman ahead of me in line bought—she asked the fishmonger to cut the fillet off the skin, which she didn’t want, so I asked for the skin (omega-3) to be in with my order. I cut it into very thin chunks.

It’s now ready, but I’ll let it sit for a while.

UPDATE: Just had a bowl. Quite tasty, nicely filling.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2012 at 5:43 pm

Posted in Food, Grub

Two-greens two-fish grub

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Pretty good grub. I’ll skip the detailed steps:

2 Tbsp EVOO
1 leek sliced thinly
2 bunches scallions sliced, including all the green
2 tsp salt
3 Serrano peppers, sliced thinly (including seeds)
freshly ground black pepper

I let that cook, stirring often, until leek and onion well wilted

1/4 c minced garlic
1 diced yellow crookneck squash
3/4 c chopped celery
1 orange bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 Japanese eggplant (the small slender variety), cut in half lengthwise then sliced thickly
1 diced “yam” (sweet potato), 21 oz, as it turned out, including peel
1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10 oz package yellow corn kernels (frozen)
1 wad slivered dried tomatoes
4 organic Roma tomatoes, diced
2 organic lemons, diced (peel, seeds, and all, but I did cut off & discard either end)

Let that cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes.

1 large bunch red dandelion greens, rinsed, stems minced, leaves chopped
1 bunch red chard, rinsed, stems chopped, leaves cut lengthwise in strips, then cut across to chop
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
1/2 c red zinfandel
2 Tbsp Taste #5 umami paste
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Cooked that for 30 minutes, then added:

1 lb Pacific swordfish, cut into chunks (including what skin there was)
3/4 lb sockeye salmon, cut into chunks (including what skin there was)

Cooked six minutes more, then just let sit on the heat with burner turned off.

It filled the 6-qt pot and will probably make 7 meals: 4 oz fish per meal, plus some protein from the beans/corn combination. 3 oz starch (from yam) per meal, plus some from corn.

The sweet potato was paler than I wanted, so I did some checking. I had gotten a Garnet “yam,” and better (oranger) would have been a Jewel “yam.” They’re both actually sweet potatoes, and thus not really potatoes: they’re roots, and potatoes are tubers. I will get a Jewel next time. The ones the store labels “sweet potatoes” (rather than “yams”) are dryer and paler when cooked. Take a look:

Photo is from this post by Zoë François. More on nutritional value of Jewel yams.

Written by Leisureguy

8 July 2012 at 7:40 pm

Pretty active day

with 3 comments

According to my Fitbit:

I also made a very nice batch of grub. I won’t describe the process, just list the ingredients:

1 fresh cipollini onion, including all the green part
1/2 red onion
freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
3 Tbsp minced garlic
3 Serrano peppers, sliced thin
2 carrots, diced
1 cup chopped celery
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
10 Indian eggplant, the size of a small egg, chopped
1 yellow crookneck squash, diced
3 Roma tomatoes diced
1 whole chicken breast, pretty good-sized (1.2 lb), skinless, cut into cubes
1 good-sized handful green beans, cut into 1″ pieces
2 lemons, diced (ends discarded, and diced with the skin)
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar (on hand, not special purchase)
1/2 cup Amontillado sherry
Black rice: I cooked 1 cup rice in 2 cups water earlier, added here as the starch
2 wads slivered dried tomatoes
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Taste #5 umami paste (since soy sauce also adds umami, this should be intense)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 good-sized bunch of red kale, stems minced, leaves chopped small
1 good-sized bunch of collards (8 large leaves), stems minced, leaves chopped small
1 pint water

Update: That’s all I can remember now. If I think of other things, I’ll add them later to the list.

Note comment below on interesting finding in the diet. (I did have a link here, but you’ll see why I removed it.)

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2012 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Fitness, Food, Grub

Losing weight

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I got an email from an on-line friend asking whether it was harder to lose weight the second time around. He has been involved in studying weight-loss and obesity issues professionally for quite a while, and he notes:

Every successful weight loss effort sets in motion myriad physiological and psychological mechanisms to regain the lost weight and prevent its subsequent loss. Of course, there has been speculation about this for 30 years, but now it seems the mechanisms are becoming clearer.

It appears that even one weight loss episode sets these mechanisms in motion, regardless of age.

So I had a big weight loss (80 lbs) and then I regained 20 lbs, which I’m now rapidly losing. (“Rapidly” does not apply to realistic and sensible weight loss: figure 1 lb/week, on average, and indeed the 80 lb loss took about 80 weeks: right at 18 months. I lost some data at my max because I made some router changes that threw my Withings wi-fi scale off-line, but on 18 June 2010 I was at 246.3; I hit 170.1 on 14 November 2011. Looking back, there was an awful lot of up and down, plus hovering between 180-185 for weeks and weeks, and then dashes down to 172, then back up, and so on. But just taking those endpoints, we’re looking at 17 months. Once I hit 170, I drifted between 170 and 180 for quite a while: not very good control. Then on 19 April 2012 I hit 192.6, and dropped to 186.4, but then back up to 192.9 on 10 May 2012. I paid attention, and generally speaking the weight started dropping.

Today is 30 June, 7.3 weeks later, and I’m at 180.4 this morning (weights are in pounds, not kg). 12.5 lbs in 7.3 weeks, or 1.7 lbs a week: quite a good rate, and included are some mild “blow-out” meals. I use that term for meals I now consider excessive, which is a far, far cry from my old blow-out meals, which now strike me as gargantuan. I have become so accustomed to the meal template, that even a blow-out meal must have a good balance of protein, starch, leafy vegetables, and moderate amounts of oil—and no refined starches or sugars. So the blow-out meals are not really all that bad. The worst part is normally I have a small amount (a half-bottle, generally) of wine, when generally I avoid alcohol altogether: pure calories.

Indeed, I broke the rule of no refined sugar or starch in the lead-up to 192.9 lbs, enjoying ice cream rather too frequently, but lesson learned: those foods are not for me. Theoretically, I could enjoy them in moderation, but moderation is much more difficult than abstinence—plus, I find, moderation is much more difficult for the unconscious mind to grasp: if I know I’m abstaining from ice cream, I can look at it with detachment, though I sensibly avoid looking as much as possible: I don’t even go down the ice-cream aisle in the supermarket. (Why strain my relationship with my unconscious?—particularly when he seems able to accept that we don’t eat that anymore.) But if I’m trying moderation, then any glimpse of ice cream means that I must (at the urging of the unconscious, no doubt) consider whether this is an occasion when I can partake—moderately, of course. But once begun, it’s hard to draw the line that defines where “moderately” ends and excess begins. Is eating just a spoonful a moderate amount? Surely. So perhaps a spoonful every couple of hours, or every 30 minutes, or every 5 minutes, or just sit down with the pint… You see how it becomes hard to draw a definite line on “moderately” but quite easy to know where the line is with “abstain.”

I should note that your adaptive unconscious is your strongest ally or your worst enemy, depending on how you approach him/her. (I find it helpful to consider the adaptive unconscious as a person in his/her own right.) Again I recommend Timothy Wilson’s Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious. (By the way, if any of my readers actually read a book I recommend, I’d love to hear that. 🙂 )

So: no, I don’t find it difficult to lose weight I’ve regained, because now I have learned the practical skills of weight loss and I know what to do. I have now also grasped that a 5-lb gain (quite easy to do) means a month (roughly) of work to lose it. When I looked at losing 20 lbs, I estimated I would be working at it for five months, though it looks now as if it will be more like three months.

I think many people have unrealistic internally-felt time tables, and sort of assume that they can blast away a 5-lb gain in a week, so why not put on another 5? That’s amazingly easy to do, especially if you have not actually changed your internal feeling of what a meal is. Thus the importance of the grub template (updated just this morning): once the template is internalized, it makes choosing foods (at a cafeteria, for example) much easier: small portion of protein, skip the bread and ice cream (totally refined foods), thus skipping butterfat as well. Avoid the cheese—a lump of fat disguised as food. Load up on leafy greens and vegetables cooked without fat. Look for some sort of starch that’s not potatoes (too much like refined food). Obviously no french fries, a deadly trio of a simple starch, a lot of fat, and a lot of salt. I sometimes accept cooked dried beans as a starch, though they are also a good fiber and partial protein. In fact, I’m going to start adding cooked pulse to my grub more often: I can lighten up somewhat on the other protein. (Tofu and tempeh are, of course, bean products and also complete proteins, and I use those a lot.)

People with a bad time-sense of weight loss will go a few weeks, see that little is happening, and decide, “To hell with it,” and have a big meal—and if they have not internalized the new way of eating, it will be a big meal of the very sort that created the problem in the first place. Their weight will increase, and they’ll think, “See? It just doesn’t work for me. I must have some special problem that medical science doesn’t yet understand.”

But in fact, I’m losing weight as rapidly as I ever did—indeed, more rapidly, because at this point I have a much better understanding of what I must do (in practical rather than theoretical terms) and I have had much more practice in doing it. Moreover, my gain gain to 192.9 lbs was pretty clearly from making bad choices based on the thought: “My weight is now so low, I can afford to eat some things as I once did.” That turns out to be a false dream. Instead, I should be thinking things like, “My weight is so low, I think I’ll enjoy an alternative meal, like clams and mussels with a small amount of cooked pasta and an enormous salad with 2 tsp of olive oil in the dressing and one glass of white wine.”

My goal now, once I reach 170 again, is to keep my weight between 170 and 173, which means sensible eating every day, rather than foolish eating once a week or so. The foolish eating can rapidly wipe out all that you’ve achieved and also serves to communicate to the unconscious, “Don’t give up hope! We can still eat the old way occasionally: prompt me when you see something tasty,” which means fighting (unconscious) impulses constantly. If you adopt the abstinence mindset, you won’t have the impulses—at least that seems true for me.

Written by Leisureguy

30 June 2012 at 9:56 am

Posted in Fitness, Food, Grub

Two-bean, two-green, two-fish grub

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I cooked 1 cup of black rice in 2 cups water last night and then ate about 3/4 cup, plus another 1/2 cup in a sardine salad at lunch. So probably about 1 cup cooked black rice made it into the grub

In wide-diameter 6-qt pot:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
generous pinch of salt—probably about 1 tsp

Sweat the onion for 5 minutes or so over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to brown. Add:

2 Tbsp smoked paprika

Sauté that for about another 4-5 minutes, then add:

1/4 cup minced garlic
3 Serrano peppers, chopped small
3/4-1 cup chopped celery
1 good-sized zucchini, diced
4 domestic white mushrooms, sliced in half then sliced into thick chunks

Sauté for another 5-8 minutes, then add:

4 chopped fresh Roma tomatoes (I pulse in the food processor, leaving them chunky)
1 can black beans, drained rinsed
6 oz green beans, cut into 1″ sections
the cooked black rice—all that was left
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3-4 Tbsp Amontillado sherry
2 Tbsp Taste #5 umami paste

Cook for about 5 minutes more (I want everything hot), then add:

1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed well and chopped
8 oz kale salad (mostly kale, with some red cabbage and coarsely grated carrot)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Simmer covered for 20 minutes, then add:

8 oz Pacific swordfish steak, cut into chunks
8 oz sockeye salmon, cut into chunks

Simmer covered for 10 minutes, check liquid level. This was a little liquidy, so I added:

1/2 cup whole-wheat couscous
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

The couscous absorbs the liquid, the olives I just decided to include on a whim.

This made about 4 qts, I’d say, once everything cooked down. And, as usual, it is delicious.



Simmer 12 minutes more.

Extremely tasty.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2012 at 4:43 pm

Two-green grub with green beans

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I’m just finishing this up:

Two Green Grub with Green Beans           

Cook 3/4 black rice in 1.5 c water for 30 minutes until done. I added a pinch of salt and about 1 tsp olive oil with the water. Hold in readiness.

Into a wide-diameter 6-qt pot, put:

3 Tbsp olive oil
5-6 large shallots, chopped
good pinch of kosher salt
grinding of black pepper
[1 Tbsp smoked (or other) paprika – I forgot this but wish I hadn’t – LG]

Sweat the shallots over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes while chopping stuff, stirring occasionally. Add:

1/4 c minced garlic
2 large jalapeño peppers, stemmed and chopped small (I leave in the seeds and ribs)
1 c chopped celery

Sauté that for 5-10 minutes, then add:

2 small yellow crookneck squash, diced
1 medium-to-large zucchini, diced
5 domestic white mushrooms, halved and sliced
10 oz fresh (organic) green beans, cleaned and cut into 1” segments
1 wad sun-dried tomato
1 dry pint Sugar Plum Grape Tomatoes, cut in half
1 14-oz can Ro-Tel tomatoes with chili (I used the roasted garlic version)
1/2 c red wine
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp Taste #5 umami paste

Simmer covered for 10 minutes, then add:

The cooked black rice
2 organic lemons, ends cut off and discarded, diced whole (i.e., with skin and seeds)
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1 bunch red chard, stems cut small, leaves chopped
1 lb kale salad (mostly kale, but also some red cabbage and grated carrot)

The greens had to be added very gradually, letting stuff cook down and adding the greens little by little, pulling the grub away from the side of the pot and poking the greens down into the hot liquid.

Once they were all in (which took about 20 minutes: cooking and adding), there was a fair amount of liquid. I let the pot simmer for 10 minutes to get the greens done, then added:

1 lb Pacific swordfish, cut into chunks
1/2 c whole-wheat couscous

[I actually added the swordfish earlier in the original recipe, but then I realized that if I added it later, it would cook without breaking up so much from stirring. = LG]

Cover and simmer 20 minutes more.

This will be for the week, I would guess.

UPDATE: Wonderful batch: just the right level of heat—warm but not hot. The kale is a little chewy, but after all, it had planned to be salad, so any cooking at all is more than expected. Extremely tasty. I like this stuff a lot. Two bowls for dinner, and now I’ll go with one bowl for lunch, two for dinner for the week.

Written by Leisureguy

24 June 2012 at 4:00 pm

Back from shopping

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It’s an enormously beautiful day: clear sky, totally sunny, but the Bay itself is blanketed in fog (common here in the summer) so that the breeze is quite cool—good for walking.

I had bought some more Amontillado sherry, so decided that the Three-Greens Grub should include some of that; recipe at link has been updated. I’m now waiting for some cooking down to happen so I can finish adding greens: red dandelion greens in and half the spinach. Still have other half of spinach (which does cook to nothing) and all the kale—thankfully, a small bunch, but even so may have to cook it separately.

I noticed as I went through the store that various things would catch my eye, and for some reason I started looking for pancetta, but I used a new skill, which now that I think of it, reminds me of when I played a lot of chess over the lunch hour at work. I am a duffer, and make lots of mistakes, but gradually I learned that, before I moved a piece, I should at least check: a) what threat did my opponent’s last move make?; and b) on my own move, can the piece (or pawn) I’m moving be immediately captured from the square to which I’m moving it?; and c) does the piece/pawn I’m planning to move already have a job protecting some other piece? Simply asking those three questions saved me much grief. So now, when I look at some tempting thing in the store, I am able to pause before picking it and go through some sort of internal evaluation: Is this something that would be good for me to eat? Is this something that, once I’ve eaten it, I’ll wish I hadn’t? And if the answers are “no” and “yes” (in that order), I know enough to try to escape the store without buying it. If I can just get out the door, I’m fine.

I did buy one treat I didn’t plan: organic raspberries, $3/box. That passed the test with flying colors, and they will be my afternoon fruit snack.

UPDATE: Grub cooking, and I’m out of fregola sarda now (grub did require it), so ordered some more. I got in all three bunches of greens, helped by the relatively small size of the motley kale (some Lacinato kale, red curly leafed kale, and red Russian kale—shown in photo).

I found on the counter a single baby potato, so that’s in there, playing the role of the silver coin in the Christmas pudding.

This fills the 6-qt wide-diameter pot to the brim. Of course, my natural thought is to get the 8-qt one, but that way madness lies: pretty soon that would also be full to the brim—it’s like freeways: you build them so the traffic won’t be bad, but they attract traffic and pretty soon you’re back where you started. And 6 qts of grub is several days eating, and toward the end one longs for new grub. I don’t like to think about trying to eat 8 qts of grub.

No, I’m sticking with this. But I have to say this batch tastes mighty good, and I’m so pleased at getting in all the three greens.

UPDATE: Just had a full bowl rather than a taste, and damn! this is a fine batch of grub. Three greens is an excellent idea. I didn’t have quite enough fregola sarda to sop up all the liquid, so I added Israeli couscous (more or less fregola sarda without the toasting), and it’s fine. I ordered some whole-wheat Israeli couscous for future use.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2012 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Fitness, Food, Grub

A step back, weight-wise—and recipe for Three-Greens Grub

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Probably because of the (high-sodium) soy sauce that accompanies sushi and gyozas—and The Wife wants to hit the place again today, which is fine with me. I’m patient on weight loss and know to keep plugging away: 134.6 this morning, up 1.2 lbs from yesterday.

A new batch of grub is due. I’ll make it greens-heavy, starch-light. UPDATE: recipe revised after shopping

Three-Greens Grub

Use wide-diameter 6-qt cooking pot. This pretty much filled it.

2 Tbsp olive oil
8 good-sized spring shallots, sliced thinly including the green part
1/2 large Spanish onion (on hand, needed to be used)
freshly ground black pepper

Sauté and then add

handful of garlic cloves, minced
16 oz Pacific swordfish, cut into chunks and coated with flour
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeño peppers, diced the same size
3 carrots, diced
2 yellow crookneck squash, diced
1 c celery, chopped small (remembered!)
1 wad slivered dried tomatoes
2 Tbsp smoked paprika

Sauté that, then add

8 Roma tomatoes coarsely chopped (food processor)
1/2 cup black rice that’s been cooked in 1 cup of water
2 organic lemons, diced
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar (I had it on hand; any vinegar will do)
2 Tbsp Taste #5 umami paste
1/4 c Amontillado sherry

Get that to simmering well, then add (and you will have to do it gradually, stirring in greens and letting each handful cook down before adding the next):

1 bunch spinach, chopped
1 large bunch red dandelion greens, chopped
1 bunch motley kale (curly-leaf red kale, Lacinato kale, red Russian kale), chopped, stems minced

Simmer for 30 minutes.

It was liquidy, so I added 1/4 cup fregola sarda (all I had on hand, alas) and a good handful of Israeli couscous, which are more or less fregola sarda without the toasting. Those cooked about 15 minutes and soaked up the liquid well.

Extremely tasty.

Written by Leisureguy

16 June 2012 at 7:39 am

Late lunch, good grub (6 qts of it)

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It took a while: late start, and then had to cook the greens down a little separately because the 6-qt pot was so full. But I did make it according to this recipe, with revisions noted at the link; namely:

The two yellow squash will go in and be cooked tomorrow: ran out of room.

Red pepper instead of yellow, noted previously.

Chopping tomatoes in food processor better than in blender: pulse a few times and you still have tomato chunks instead of tomato puree. I think this is what I’ll do from now on.

Had to cook greens in a separate pot to reduce volume. This ended up taking a little more olive oil, half a large Spanish onion, chopped, and more garlic. (I was thinking I would have to eat the greens separately, but after both pots cooked for a while, there was room.)

Besides the 2 Tbsp capers about 1.5 Tbsp of the liquid. I did use 2 Tbsp of Taste #5 (the umami paste).

It’s really quite tasty—good thing, too: there’s a lot of it. Excellent topped with grated Parmesan.

UPDATE: I ate enough to add the diced yellow crookneck squash, so I’m simmering it for another 20-30 minutes. Really is tasty, and I like the huge amount of greens it contains.

Written by Leisureguy

11 June 2012 at 4:58 pm

Good shopping

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Just back from Whole Foods, where I did indeed procure two tubes of the umami paste. I’ve opened one to taste it, and it’s just the ticket. I also picked up some stuff for the next batch of grub.

I decided to go for the ratatouilleish version of grub, what with all the spring vegetables. Zucchini duty will split between one large green zucchini and two smaller yellow crookneck squash. I still have organic lemons for bitter, and since I’m up in weight, I decided to double up on the greens (nutritious, low-calorie bulk) and got a perfectly enormous bunch of red dandelion greens to go with red motley kale I got—I’m not sure of the variety, but this is the one that’s sort of narrow on the stalk.The lemons (along with the 2 Tbsp of some kind of vinegar I usually add) is in service to the greens.

I got four Roma tomatoes (which I think this time I’ll chop in the food processor rather than blend: crushed instead of soupified) and a 10-oz cube of extra-firm tofu for the protein.

I was intrigued to see (when I was picking up the umami paste, next to the sun-dried tomatoes) that Barilla Plus now has whole-grain penne pasta, so I got that for the starch: I just cook it in with the grub so it absorbs the liquid from that, more nutritious than plain water. It also keeps the grub from being too soupy. “Plus” refers to added omega-3.

I’ll definitely be using the umami paste. And I’ll be using carrots (for my food from the “orange” group, as defined by David Heber) and of course celery (if I remember). So this grub will be quite hearty but I would think quite low in calories.

For the allium role I got garlic and also 8 spring shallots, which I’m looking forward to. (Pronunciation fetish: shallot is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable, as in the poem The Lady of Shalott, by Alfred Lord Tennyson.)

Fruit snacks: Manila mangoes, which I continue to enjoy greatly, and two small boxes of red raspberries.

Avoidances: Managed not to buy a Halloumi cheese (not a good time for more fat and salt), telling myself that it will still be available when I’m under 170 lbs. I of course avoided the ice-cream aisle altogether.

I did notice that working from a list enables one to ignore pretty much everything that’s not on the list: I found myself focusing on getting the next item, rather than simply browsing, which tends to make me much more vulnerable to impulse buying of inappropriate foods—or simply foods I do not now need. I ate my morning mango just before going to the store, so I was not hungry, and that helps as well. I did see the Barilla Plus whole-grain penne, but I was at the time trying to figure out what to use for starch. I didn’t want rice, white or black; I considered the baby potatoes when I saw them, but I prefer to keep potatoes as a rare treat.

UPDATE: On my walk I was mulling on this recipe, and I decided that I’d go with 4 oz of the pasta (one half-portion per meal for 5 meals) and I think I’ll also add a drained can of sardines to increase protein (and add more omega-3). That should also help the umami. Given the volume of the dish, I doubt that the sardine flavor will be noticeable—even if it is, it’s a flavor I like.

UPDATE 2: In an attempt to remember the celery, I wrote out a recipe that I’ll follow tomorrow:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2012 at 11:06 am

Posted in Daily life, Fitness, Food, Grub

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