I Went Hiking Today
Not far. About three and a half miles. Ice on the trail cut the hike short. Not really wanting to break my neck… But it was a fun hike. I went with my friend PGB to Harriman State Park in Sloatsburg, New York. We have hiked there two or three times before, maybe more. The trails are more challenging than at the Rockefeller Preserve and it is MUCH closer to home. PGB is good company, intelligent, witty and patient. Who could ask for more.
I think we would have hiked five or six miles if the ice had not presented a problem.. Waiting for better weather….
Crampons would have helped…
It was a really good day for a hike. It was cold but not windy and once in a while a little sun poked through. Mostly it was gray and overcast and I think I say a few snowflakes. I wish we could have gone farther but there was that ice..
I have mentioned here many times how much I love to bake bread. With family coming to dinner tonight I wanted to make sure that I served a delicious dinner with some homemade bread. With the hike cut short I was able to make four loaves of bread: two whole wheat and two potato-flour and egg breads.
I am so relaxed when I make bread. So at peace. I really wonder if I should have been a baker.
The bread came out very well. The Older One loves the whole wheat and the guests enjoyed the potato-flour and egg bread.
It is always a boost when the foods I make are well received.
Here is the recipe for the Potato-flour & egg bread:
All my bread recipes assume you have a KitchenAid or similar heavy-duty mixer.
- 5-6 cups of All-purpose flour. I use King Arthur brand. I have tried many others and for breads I have found none as good.
- 2 packets active dried yeast
- 2 cups of hot water: about 110 degrees F.
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- 4 tablespoons potato flour. Again, I use King Arthur Brand.
- 2 large eggs
- Egg wash
- Sesame seeds
Dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the two cups of water and allow the yeast to proof. About five minutes. You should see a nice head of foam form after about 5 minutes.
Put the first two cups of flour in the mixer bowl and add the salt and potato flour.. With the flat beater and the mixer set at speed two blend the salt and potato flour with the two cups of all-purpose.
When the yeast is finished proofing give it a good stir with a fork and then pour all at once in to the mixer still mixing on setting two with the flat beater. Add the two eggs. After one to two minutes you should have a soupy mix in the bowl. Turn off the mixer, remove the flat beater, scraping clean with a spatula. Put in the dough hook. Set mixer to speed two and add two level cups of the all-purpose flour. When well incorporated add one more cup.
After the fifth cup is well incorporated you will add the sixth cups a small amount at a time until the dough is forming a ball and leaving the sides of the bowl clean. Stop the mixer and feel the dough. It should be SLIGHTLY sticky.
If it is very sticky add a small amount of flour and run the mixer until the added flour is well incorporated. Stop the mixer and feel the dough again. Repeat the additional flour until the dough is slightly sticky. Remove the dough from the bowl and form in to a ball. Place in an oiled bowl and cover. I use cooking spray to oil the bowl and I cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a worm place to rise until doubled in size. This should take about an hour.
Punch down the dough and cut in to two equal sized pieces. I use a kitchen scale to make sure I get this right. Form in to ball and place on an oiled baking sheet. I use the silicone baking sheet liners so I don’t need to oil the baking sheet.
Gently flatten the balls of dough until they are roughly 6 inches in diameter and as round as you can form them. Make sure they are far enough apart on the tray so they can rise properly.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until roughly double in size, about 45 minutes.
Make an egg wash with one whole egg and an equal amount of water. Mix together well. When the dough is done with the second rise, gentle brush with the egg was so the entire surface of the dough has a light coating of wash. Sprinkle liberally with the sesame seed. Score the dough with an X. Place in a preheated oven at 400 degrees. Back until golden brown. Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes.
I made Shrimp Creole with chicken and Chicken Sausage for dinner tonight. Of course you could use chorizo or any other sausage of your preference. I would not use Italian style sausage. Wrong flavor profile. I use a chicken and garlic herb sausage that we buy precooked. Very good and fits the Creole very well.
It was very well received by my family tonight and I really enjoy cooking it. It comes together very quickly. The prep takes some time as there are a lot of things to cut and cook ahead…
Much easier than it should be!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 lb Chicken Sausage. We use a fully cooked chicken with garlic and herbs sausage.
1 lb raw shrimp, deveined and shelled. I like larger shrimp. Any size would probably work just fine.
1 green bell pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley
28 ounces of canned diced tomato drained but reserve the liquid
1 tablespoon of crushed thyme
2 tablespoons of crushed or diced garlic
Black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chili powder (more or less to taste)
Butterfly the chicken breasts and grill in a hot pan with a little olive oil. Make sure to give the chicken a good sear and turn as needed to brown nicely on each side. Cook until the chicken is JUST done. Set aside, when cooled enough to handle cut in to half-inch pieces.
If using the precooked chicken sausage, slice the chicken sausage in to ¼ inch thick slices and set aside.
If using raw sausage or a sausage like Chorizo, slice in to ¼ inch slices and fry in the pan you just removed the chicken from. You want to render the fats and give the Chorizo a nice sear. Set aside.
There should be plenty of fats in the pan now from the chicken (and the Chorizo if you used them). Add the peppers, onion and garlic in the pan and give them a good stir fry, you want the peppers and onions to begin to wilt and caramelize just a slight bit. Add chili powder and thyme and black pepper to taste. Add in the chicken and sausage.
Give the spice a little time to blend in and give up their flavors while stirring. Now add the tomatoes. Stir well and add a few spoonfuls of the reserved liquids from the tomatoes to help deglaze the pan.
Now add the shrimp and continue to cook until the shrimp are cooked through, stirring constantly. Add the reserved liquid a few ounces at a time to maintain a “wet sauce” but not make it soup-like. Add the chopped parsley right at the end of the cooking time and stir in.
As soon as the shrimp is cooked through the dish is ready. Taste the broth and season to taste.
Serve over rice with a bottle of hot sauce at the table. This is also very good over linguine
Talking about Weight Loss
Of course some of the conversation concerned weight loss. I have lost a few pounds as you all know. Inevitably we talked about it. When you lose over 100 pounds people want to talk about it and I am really happy to oblige.
The question always comes up and I cannot answer it strongly enough to make it clear I guess. I have not now, nor have I ever at any time during this Journey of mine been on a special diet. I am not on Paleo, Atkins, South Beach…… OR ANY OTHER dig name or little name or self invented diet. I am not on a diet.
The fact of the matter is that I eat less than I used to.
I don’t PIG OUT the way I used to. I had some more bread tonight than I normally would and I had a very small piece of pie today. I stayed within the calorie limits I place on myself and YES I COUNT CALORIES.
The point I am making here is simple to me. Eat less, eat right, move more. That is what I tell friends and family and complete strangers. I am thinking of making it in to the T-Shirt.
I want to live this way for the rest of my life. I love it. I enjoy being lean. I love the way I eat and I love talking about the weight loss. I am proud that I have done this without a special diet. Without Juicing. Without fasting. Without any of the fads that seem to crop up each spring along with the dandelions. This has led some to think that A) I am knowledgeable about weight loss and B) that I am disdainful of the diets and such.
I was able to do it and the temptation is to say that anyone can do it if I can but I know it is not true. I cannot tell you why I have been able to do it so far. Nearly 8 months since reaching my goal weight I am still under that weight and maintaining it. I fully expect to lose 5-10 more pounds with the arrival of spring.
So I want to clarify:
A) I am not knowledgeable about weight loss. I only know what has worked for me and what continues to work for me. I know that a proper nutritional profile is critical so I make sure to eat a well-rounded diet of grains, vegetables, fruits and proteins. I watch my calories to make sure that I stay within the plan.
I know that exercise is important so I walk, hike, bike…
I also know that most weight loss comes from how much you eat not how much you exercise. I try to maintain a balance.
B) I am not disdainful of, negative about, or against the diets and surgeries and medications that are out there. For me they have proven unnecessary. I cannot tell you why.
I am proud that I have done it without the diets and such but I know that there are people for whom they represent the best options. I can only say this: you need to learn to eat right and eat less if you are going to maintain the weight loss after you reach your goal and you move away from the diet.
And talk about it. Talk about it all the time. It will help you keep a focus on it.
Dinner tonight was BACK TO THE PLAN. Tilapia with Old Bay and Sriracha, Roasted Kabocha and, mixed vegetables with tofu in a sweet chili sauce. The vegetables are broccoli, onion, Shiitake and Portobello mushrooms, red bell pepper and, shredded red cabbage. It was all very tasty
Missing an Old Friend
I love Peanut Butter. I mean I really love it. It is one of those foods that I have no control around. I will make myself a PB&J and then have a spoonful or three of peanut butter after finishing the sandwich already laden with peanut butter. I don’t make sandwiches with the normal serving size. I make it THICK with peanut butter on both slices of bread and a wall around the outer edge to seal in the jelly.
My PB&J sandwiches are works of culinary art and in no possible way healthy. I use white bread. Not white whole wheat. WHITE bread. Butter-Top, Taste-Bread, Wonder Bread WHITE. No Organic, artisanal Peanut butter or jelly for me. JIF Creamy, Welch’s Concord Grape.
We are talking a sugar and high fructose corn syrup orgy between two slices of health destroying white commercially baked and preserved foam.
It is everything I no longer do to myself wrapped up in one neat little, washed down with milk, package.
And I miss it. I miss it very much.
It is the one and only food that I have given up that I consistently crave. Not every day but at least twice a week I find my mind wondering over to the pantry to look at the jar of Jif. It has been over a year. Not since sometime in December 2011 have I allowed myself to have a PB&J. Sigh.
I wonder if I will ever trust myself enough around food to have one again… I wonder if I will allow myself to eat something that unhealthy even just once in a great while.
When I took off the weight three plus years ago my reward to myself for losing 50 pounds was a PB&J. It was also the day that I started the slide back to uber-fat
I will not touch the stuff. Not yet. Not until I am certain beyond all question that I will not allow it to be a gateway back to obesity.
But I do miss that old friend…
Ain’t Hiking this weekend
I don’t know if you have heard but a major winter storm is heading this way. In my area the forecast is for close to a foot of the heavy white stuff. Further east and north they are facing a blizzard of potentially historic proportions. This will not be fun. For me the major effect will be a difficult commute home on Friday evening and time behind the snow blower. I will get in some exercise that way and I will try to get to the local trails on Saturday afternoon to do a little cross-country skiing.
The storm has killed any hope I had of hiking at the Preserve on Sunday though I may drive up there and cross-country ski if the roads and weather allows.
I am part of the Get-Fit program I have mentioned before and because I have spent so much time in cars this week, it has put at risk in only the second week my ability to meet the weekly fitness time…
Not pleased. I will find away even if it means cross-country skiing in my neighborhood.
But I can tell ya this, I ain’t hiking this weekend.
Cooking comes easy to me. Always has. I have improved my skills over the years and I am better at seasonings and such now than years ago but I was always a good cook and it always came easy for me. Lately though I feel as though I am in a rut: sweet potato, winter squash, greens….
I have to stretch a little more and experiment more. Towards this end I have started to really dig in to my collection of 250 plus cookbooks (SS: this does not mean I have enough, feel free to keep sending me cookbooks). I am really digging in to the vegetable sections looking for inspiration. As we move closer to a vegetarian diet it is becoming more of a challenge to keep the menu varied and interesting. We are trying grains and rice that are new to us. We are trying all sorts of new greens and potatoes and squash and the like. Still this is proving a real challenge.
Ideas and suggestions are welcomed.
Tilapia covered in Horseradish with a light sprinkle of Paprika, Mixed greens (string beans, collard greens and Swiss Chard) with garlic, baked sweet potato: Less than 500 calories for a filling and tasty dinner.
I did nothing today
I didn’t go to work because I had root canal scheduled for today. When that was done all I did was sit in front of the computer or watch TV or putter around the kitchen.
I didn’t snack at least….
I also didn’t exercise or…
Lazy day. I don’t like it. It can become habit-forming… And it is a bad habit.
Dinner with Friends at a Vegetarian Restaurant
I have mentioned before that I have a group of friends that I get together with from time to time for dinner. Last night was one of those times. I proposed that we go to a Vegetarian restaurant in a nearby town. The restaurant specializes in Asian cuisine. I was very pleased when the group readily accepted the idea and we met at the scheduled time. I had General Tso’s Crispy tofu and is was delicious but not quite as spicy as I would like it. The others gathered had a variety of dishes that were well received. Having restricted my calories all day so I could really enjoy the dinner without remorse, I ordered the Vegan Chocolate Cake. It was tasty but really suffered from the lack of eggs and milk in the recipe. The texture was dry and firm. Tasty as I said but…
It really made me happy that my friends were willing to go out on the culinary limb and try the vegetarian restaurant. I am not strictly a vegetarian, though I am leaning that way, and I could find something to eat almost anywhere but the selection of a vegetarian restaurant makes it easier for me and for that I am grateful.
The group has been overwhelmingly supportive of me on my Journey. PB and MT have gone on hikes with me, MT nearly being trampled as I fled down the trail in the opposite direction of the snake… Never once have they told me ENOUGH WITH THE WEIGHT LOSS STORIES!
It was a fun gathering, we talked about a range of topics and we enjoyed each other’s company.
Baked Salmon marinated in low sodium soy sauce with fresh ground ginger and fresh garlic, multi-grain rice with black beans and pepper and onion, and Kabocha Squash. It was delicious. I love cooking. Exploring new varieties of foods has been one of the truly rewarding aspects of this Journey.
After three consecutive nights of Vegan dinners, we have had two in a row with fish. We like the variety.
All of this has prompted us to start planning a garden. I want a large garden. We have the space for it and so…
I am planning 3-4 varieties of tomato, a range of herbs, several pepper varieties, squash (Missus has banned zucchini), eggplant, leafy greens such as spinach and Swiss Chard, broccoli, cauliflower, and maybe some corn and cucumbers…. Critical to this plan will be a fence. Have to keep the deer and rabbits away….
Anyone out there with some good gardening advice?
The Weekend Plans
A 10 mile hike. I want to go to the preserve and do a ten-mile hike. Last weekend I hike 7.5 miles with MT and it was really nearly effortless. This weekend I would like to add an hour to the hike and get to ten miles. I have no doubts about doing it. I just want the weather to cooperate. Anything around 30 degrees and sunshine will work as long as the wind is mild.
This will have to be Saturday because the weather forecast for Sunday is not so nice. I may do the track at the school on Sunday.
I love planning weekends.
Dinner at least once of the nights will be Vegan and the other will be some nice fish we have in the freezer. Probably some Mahi-Mahi….
The Magic and Wonder
I still feel a sense of the magic and wonder of all this. The Journey, how far I have come, the distance yet to travel. Feels like magic to me. It is uplifting and affirming. It can take a dark mood and lighten it. All I need to do is put on last year’s winter coat or an old suit and I am lifted. I am reminded of the change and it changes my day.
No matter how accustomed I become to the revised me I will not lose the sense of wonder that I managed to do this. I lost the weight. I am almost 6 months in to the maintenance part of this and I am still well below the target weight of 210 pounds. Still around 200.
I can’t help but think that I succeed at losing the weight and I am succeeding as maintaining the weight because I kept it simple. I reduced my calories and I increased my activities and I stuck with it and I continue to stick with it. I have done this through trials and tribulations, confusion, stress, fear and anxiety. No matter what, good or bad, was happening in my life I have stayed with this plan.
To me, this is magic and wonder.
Made waffles for the family this morning. The batter made five and a half waffles at 216 calories each! Depending on your waffle iron it may be more or less
Ignore the nonsense about alcohol. It is the tiny amount found in the vanilla extract
The Dry Ingredients: Flour, Salt and Baking Powder
The Wet Ingredients: Eggs, Milk and Vanilla Extract
Don’t over mix the batter!
Proctor Silex Waffle Irons. LOVE THEM
Waffles and hot apple sauce
The perfect waffle. pity about the picture…..
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups low-fat milk (we use lactose free, 2% fat)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional, we don’t use it but if you like your waffles sweeter…)
Mix wet ingredients together, add dry ingredients, mix until slightly lumpy. Do Not Over Mix…
Ladle on to your waffle iron according to the manufacturers instructions. Serve golden brown.
Comes to about 164 calories per waffle if you omit the sugar and make 8 waffles……. all depends on the waffle iron. The entire batch is about 1320 calories so divide 1320 by the number of waffles you make and you have the calories per waffle (of course). Adding the sugar adds only about 6 calories per waffle….
Also makes good pancakes……The silly reference to Alcohol in the nutritional profile is because of the tiny amount of alcohol in the vanilla extract.
A Vegan Dinner Tonight
Wanted to share:
Made a Vegan dinner tonight
Jasmine Rice, Bok Choy and Spinach with sweet red peppers and fresh ginger, Peas and Corn with Cranberries flavored with Orange Juice, Oven Roasted Butternut Squash.
It was all so good!
Medallions sprinkled with fresh ground black pepper and ginger
I ran a mile today. Haven’t done that since High School. I ran a mile today. Didn’t stop. Started and finished. I ran a mile. Nine minutes and thirty-three seconds. The Olympic Team is out of the question. I ran a mile. I went to the school track and had at it. Ran carefully, paid attention to the knee. I ran a mile.
It is a start. It is far from where I was. I started this Journey with a couple of walking laps around the same track. Half a mile. Walking. I was beat. I remember my joy at making it a mile and a quarter. And now, eleven months in to my Journey, 6 weeks after knee surgery, I ran a mile.
There is nothing particularly noteworthy about this. I understand this. Millions of people in this country run 5K, 10K, and Marathons. Many regularly run 2 to 5 miles. I get that, I understand that. But I ran a mile today.
I am not built to be a runner. I was always the slowest kid on the block. Short legs relative to my height and slow twitch muscles… But I can cycle. In cycling, mechanical devices and the ability to turn higher gears due to silly strong legs gives me a mechanical advantage.
But today… 330 days in to the journey. I ran a mile and I am feeling really good about it.
I rode my bike this afternoon. The temperature hit the low 50′s and I suited up and went for a ride. I rode very strong. I rode 20 miles at a 16.4 miles per hour average and I climbed a hill that has had the better of me in the past. I ran a mile and I rode 20. I burned some serious calories today.
I was most happy that I did almost no coasting today. I pedaled nearly the entire way. I think the time on the treadmill, the elliptical and the stationary bike is paying off. I really felt good about my stamina. I wanted to do thirty miles today but cut it short at the day started to turn chillier and I was concerned about being on the road at dusk. Still, 20 miles is nothing to be upset about. This was only my third ride since the knee surgery and to ride that strongly and with no pain in the knee whatsoever was a great feeling. The unexpected benefit of having to rest the leg because of the knee injury was my calf muscles were able to heal from the torn muscle finally and so for the first time since 2010 I had no problems with either my calf or my knee.
NI, KG, KR, GET READY FOR SOME SERIOUS RIDES NEXT SPRING!
My one day to get silly with food
Today is Thanksgiving in the States. A day of unfettered gluttony for many. It has been such for me in the past.
Unfortunately our guests for the holiday all had to call off. My Mother-in-law and sister-in-law because they are just now getting back to normal after the storm and our dear friends CRF and MOF because the hubby injured his back and simply cannot ride in a car for three hours due to the pain.
That left me, Missus, The Older and The Younger. The Older goes to sleep before dinner is served and The Younger wouldn’t eat turkey on a dare. To make a full Thanksgiving meal for just two of us to enjoy seemed a tad on the silly side. The Older went to bed, The younger held down the fort and had pizza and Missus and I went to the Asian Buffet down the highway.
They had a very reasonable sushi selection, lots of peel and eat shrimp, some hot fish dishes and pumpkin pie. Missus and I allowed ourselves to eat a little more than we would otherwise and I think it could reasonably be said we over did it a touch. Still, I think we stayed within shouting distance of the plan, avoided the sauce-laden dishes, stayed with fish and the like. We did indulge and have the pumpkin pie. They were quite small slices, most people were taking two. WE had one and some pineapple on the side.
I allowed myself this rare day of indulgence. I have much to be thankful for this year and knowing when to say yes and when to say no is a new discipline for which I am profoundly grateful. Tomorrow morning I plan to run my second mile and I plan to ride another 20 miles before our friend MR comes over. I am smoking a turkey tomorrow. I will send him home with leftovers, freeze much of the rest. I am making red cabbage with cinnamon apples (my own creation) and stuffing. No pumpkin pie, MR Doesn’t care for it, but I will make a chocolate cake and send most of that home with him as well.
Saturday I am hiking with MT and PGB. Packing in a lunch. Leftover turkey sandwich. Trail mix bars. Water.
So today I could be a little silly with food. Still, I stayed close to the plan. Burned the extra, made a conscious decision to go a little overboard. Knew when to say enough.
Pretty proud of myself on this one.
199 pounds even on the scale this morning. 330 days in to the Journey. I ran a mile. I cycled 20.
Here ya go:
1 English cucumber
2 Large Red Bell Peppers
5-6 Large ripe plum tomatoes
1 small red onion or ½ of a large red onion
3 minced garlic cloves
4 cups of Tomato Juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Sea Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Rough chop the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and onion
One at a time, coarsely chop each in a food processor. You do not want to overdo this step. You want the vegetables to maintain their texture.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir well, and check seasoning to taste and chill overnight. Can be made that morning but make sure it is well chilled.
Today was Beautiful
Today was a magnificent day. The weather could not have been better and the activities of the day could not have been more enjoyable.
I didn’t get out to ride today. I was busy on yard work and cooking and that was more than enough for me today. I mowed the lawn, transplanted a rhododendron, trimmed the HUGE forsythia, watered everything in sight, smoked a turkey, made two loaves of bread, a big pot of the Gazpacho, couscous with vegetables and pine nuts, made a pizza for the boys and enjoyed the company of two friends.
And I am not at all worn out.
And I ate properly and stayed within the plan.
And I didn’t nibble or taste the pizza or nibble the cheese or scarf a few pepperoni.
Today was a beautiful day.
Work in the AM.