Friday, February 29, 2008

Butterscotch Pudding

What's for dessert tonight??? This is. Yum!!!!

David Lebovitz: A Butterscotch Pudding Recipe, Without Losers:
"Butterscotch Pudding
4-6 servings

Adapted from Ripe For Dessert (HarperCollins)

4 tablespoons (60g) butter, salted or unsalted
1 cup (200g) packed dark brown or cassonade sugar
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2½ (625ml) cups whole milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract"


This is well worth the read. Food Rant: America's Fat Problem: "Americans need to be better educated about the food they eat, what’s truly good, what’s harmful, quantities that are necessary, and super-sizes we don’t need. Until we find out for ourselves from reliable sources the answers to these questions, instead of relying on knee-jerk media alarmism and marketing hooey, we’re not going to eat the food that both satisfies our souls and our bodies, and will perpetuate our fat and salt dysfunction."

Mary's been telling me this all along, so it's not new news... but you can now read it on a blog!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fit Bowl Facts

So I started to think about the numbers. I've been tracking my calorie intake, and barring the over-eating of the past couple days:

I've been staying pretty consistent at eating 2000 calories a day (allowing for exercise).

So what was my calorie intake before the fit-bowl? Well, if 2000 calories a day leads to 3 pounds of weight loss a week, then I'm eating 1500 calories less than I was before the contest. (3 pounds == 3*3500 == 10500 calories a week, divide by 7 and get 1500 calories extra a day)

It's been relatively easy to eat just 2000 calories (plus exercise), so this gives me a lot of hope. Not only do I think I'll be able to maintain this in the long-run, but I can very likely eat a fair amount more and still maintain a weight of only 230 (or 220). I find that encouraging because a part of the problem I had with starting a diet/lifestyle change was the mental block that I'd have to starve myself. This is proof I won't starve (as though I've ever really had to worry about that).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

5 Weeks of Fit-Bowl

So I've been at it for over 5 weeks now. I'm down 15 pounds, woo-hoo!

What I'm happiest about is the fact that I lost 7 of those pounds while in Hawaii - where I ate ice cream and pudding and other things. Granted, I was walking 1 or 2 hours a day (or more), but it was nice to see.

Unfortunately at Mary's birthday party I pigged out, and the two days following I over-ate. So I need to reign things back in.


So... we've been gone. On the 4th, we hopped on a plane and spent 16 days in Kauai. What can I say, it was awesome.

We did nothing but eat lots of fresh, tropical fruit and fresh fish, we swam almost every day, we walked lots, and we hung out watching the whales/dolphins/tortoises. Our place was right on the water, and the last day we were there we saw the full moon set, the sun rise, a baby humpback breech 30 or 40 times, and a beautiful sunset. It was a pretty awesome day.

The highlights of the trip were probably (in no specific order):
  • surfing lesson (I stood up and rode the wave onto the beach 5 or 6 times)
  • Simone in her bright pink swim suit and hat, sitting in the bright pink inflatable boat just squealing with joy (wish we had a picture of that)
  • shrimp marinated in soy sauce/sesame oil/ginger - huge and delicous
  • nearly a papaya a day
  • just hanging out with Mary, Simone, and Elizabeth
  • Simone learning new words every day (she said "angst" the day we flew to Hawaii

Here are some pics:

Simone's first day on the beach:

A random sampling of our fruit selection:

Simone and Mary playing in the sand:

A pretty typical sunset, with waves splashing up. This was taken from the condo:

Simone, a very sleepy baby:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sybaris February 2008

Mary and I went to a restaurant in Albany for her birthday. I know, a nice restaurant in Albany, my pre-conceived ideas were about to be challenged. Still, the menu looked intriguing: Sybaris February 2008

The atmosphere was pleasant, especially as the light dimmed (which helped make the large space feel more intimate). The restaurant rotates art from different, local, artists every month, which is nice. But on to the food:

First of all, we loved our waiter. He was the only waiter there, and has worked for the chef for 14 years (including the 6 years Sybaris has been open). He loves his job and it showed. He explained a number of the dishes very eloquently and accurately (as the menu sometimes had brief and/or mis-leading descriptions). The only problem with service was there was only one of him (a hostess showed up about half-way through dinner), so he was a little short on time at each table. Our water was always full and empty dishes were promptly whisked away, I'm not sure how he did it all.

Then there was the food, I started with a Manhattan which was nice, nothing fancy, though the martini glass had a curved stem which I found awkward. Mary really enjoyed her Cabernet (I don't remember the vineyard).

We were both pretty hungry so we started with the appetizer:
smoked pheasant quesadilla with chipotle cheddar
and a toasted cumin sour cream

It was small (we were forewarned), and tasted fine. I personally couldn't tell the difference between pheasant and chicken. The smoked meat was moist and tender, it didn't taste very smokey. The cumin and chipotle flavors blended well. Overall, it was nice, but it certainly did not stand out.

Our waiter thought tis salad was their best (of all the salads they make through the year), and he described it well enough to pique our interest:
romaine with a passion fruit vinaigrette (for 2)

I know, sounds mundane, but wow. The salad was large enough for 4, and while it looked like slightly wet romaine lettuce, it tasted vibrantly of passion fruit. We both really enjoyed the crisp, watery snap of the romaine and the bold passion fruit. A big thumbs up from both of us, this was a dish we'd both love to have again.

Mary chose the
roasted partridge breast with oregon mole and
leg meat tamale tower
and I had the
buffalo and wild boar meat loaf with wild mushroom
sour cream gravy on hominy mashed potatoes
The mole was slightly sweet (made with prunes) and just a bit spicy (from the peppers) but very rich (from the cocoa), and it paired beautifully with the salty tamale. Mary wasn't very inspired when she first read the description, but she decided hers was better than mine.

My meatloaf was the size of my fist (large), and very tender and tasty. The gravy blended with the meat flavors well, though I had hoped for a little more mushroom flavor (and a few actual mushrooms). The mashed potatoes were delicious, but I couldn't tell there was hominy. I did enjoy the dish very much.

Because it was Mary's birthday, they brought out a little dessert (on the house) with a candle - the
butterscotch pudding
. We thought the flavor excellent, but the texture a bit grainy. We were also hoping for the peat smoked shortbread that was mentioned on the menu, but it was not to be found.

We did order the
chocolate ice cream, peanut butter ice cream terrine with bananas foster
Mmmm.... the ice creams were divine, and the bananas foster delicious - the caramel was perfectly sweet. I wanted to lick the plate.

I think we'll be heading back to Albany in the future - the menu is probably more interesting than anything we've had in Corvallis.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Oregon Distilleries

There are some fine distilleries in Oregon, and they're making some very nice alcohols.

Two favorites of mine are from the">Bend Distillery - two gins made from real juniper berries (just checked, I only see one gin on their web page, interesting - I've got two different bottles). Turns out they also make hazelnut coffee liqueur - so I bought a bottle of that, very tasty.

There are a bunch of other distilleries in Oregon. Here's a list I found from Oregon Distilleries: Clear Creek Distillery, McMenamins Edgefield Distillery, Brandy Peak Distillery, Ransom Spirits, Dolmen Distillery, New Deal Distillery, Rogue House of Spirits, House Spirits (Medoyeff), Bend Distillery, Hood River Distilleries, Indio Spirits, Sub Rosa Spirits, Highball Distillery, Sidepocket Distillery, Integrity Spirits.

I've had whiskey and gin from McMenamins, and brandy from Clear Creek. Only 12 distilleries to go.

I think I'll try to find some from each of the distillers that make small batch liquers. I've a feeling I'll find quite a few gems.

The Clear Creek Distillery came out with a Douglas Fir Eaux de Vie (brandy), which is a bright green like the new shoots on a fir tree (from which it's made). Very interesting sounding, but not quite enough to warrant buying a whole bottle. I took a tour of Clear Creek 12 years ago, the guy was real nice. At the time he just had the cherry and pear brandies, and was still working on his whiskey. He's got a lot of different liqueurs now - many that I'd like to try.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Why I Eat Grass Fed Beef

Supposedly the beef tastes better, I dunno about that.

I buy locally grown, grass-fed beef because:

1) it's local (supports local businesses)
2) it's grass fed (better for the cows, orders of magnitude less chance of them growing dangerous levels of E.coli)
3) it environmentally friendly
4) it doesn't support the big-business meat industry

I'm not going to watch the video, I imagine it is sad, depressing, disturbing and all that. But the write-up around it was informative.

U.S. Food Policy: Humane Society video of workers abusing "downer" cattle: "Beyond the cruelty evident in the video, the Washington Post explains that putting downer cattle into the food supply is dangerous."