It Really is an Eating Plan

Some diet/self-help gurus tell you to call a diet an eating plan. They says diet has too many negative connotations. Like the fact the first three letters spell die.

I always thought this a little silly. I mean you are cutting foods you want either way. That’s what makes a diet hard, no matter what you call it.

Well Monday I started an eating plan. It actually isn’t a diet, because I can eat most anything I want.

As long as I cook it.

No eating out. No frozen dinner either. It has to be made from basic ingredients. Not necessarily scratch, but nothing that has been cooked already.

The big change and challenge for me is lunch. This means I have to bring my lunch to work and that is news. And it can’t be something frozen just to be heated in the microwave. So yesterday it was left over Paco Pibil. Today it is Asian Chicken Spaghetti, my own invention.

Saute some cubed chicken breasts in peanut oil with crushed chilli peppers.
Make whole wheat spaghetti.
Each of those go in separate containers and are take to work. Along with some raisins and a little container of peanut oil.

At lunch time, put a little water in the spaghetti and microwave for 1 minute. Microwave the chicken for 1.5 minutes.
Pour about 1 teaspoon of peanut oil on the spaghetti and mix to coat. Add chicken, raisins and sunflower kernel I have in my desk.

Quite taste, though I think it needs more chili peppers for some bite.

Puerco Pibil With A Little Bite

So our small group from church was coming over for dinner last night and I was going to cook. My wife can’t eat night shades because of an allergy. Nightshades include tomatoes and potatoes as well as all hot peppers. Filmmaker Roberto Rodriguez has a 10 minute cooking school on the Once Upon a Time in Mexico DVD on how to make Puerco Pibil. This is a slow roasted port dish. So I decided to make it for the small group because she can’t eat it if I make it just for the family and the dish makes quite a bit of food.

My writing down of the recipe has be writing “ancho” seeds. Now an Ancho is a dried pepper. Well I couldn’t find any of these seeds on Sunday night. So I thought the ancho is there to provide some heat if it comes from a pepper. So I substituted crushed red peppers instead. 5 tablespoons of crushed red pepper. In addition to the 2 habinero peppers in the recipe.

Let me tell you the flavor of this fall apart when you poke it with a fork pork is incredibly good. I told the people the pork had “a bit of a bite”. When I sat down to the table after everyone else was already eating, some people had tears in their eyes. 🙂 It was hot.

I ate the last of it today for lunch. Now I have tears in my eyes.

The really funny part is the recipe doesn’t call for ancho seeds, but rather annato seeds. Which are there primarily to provide the red color.

So I’ve never made it right and it doesn’t need to be anywhere near that hot.

Here’s the YouTube video of the 10 minute cooking school.

Super Blender

If you haven’t seen it already, check out the Will It Blend website. There are a bunch of videos of a guy blending things that just shouldn’t be blended. For instance he blends a night at the movies into a smoothie. That consists of a coke, – still in the can – a DVD, and cup of popcorn kernels.

Even more crazy he blends 50 marbles into a dust I’m sure would be a very effective chemical weapon.

I’ve always felt our blender kind of sucked. It was a cheap blender and it isn’t very good at blending anything complicated. So I went to the BlendTech website to look at it from a cooks point of view. You go to this page and watch videos of them blending stuff you can eat.

I watched the bread dough out of curiosity after having spent a few hours this weekend making bread. It was cool the blender will grind your grain into flour for you. Talk about fresh. Next he made the whole dough right in the blender. I’m not sure how that would work and I couldn’t see the end of the view because WMV sucks. The ice cream was also impressive, though that’s more a sorbet than ice cream.

Of course the biggest problem with the blender is that it is $399. I understand good gear requires money, but I’m not sure I’m ready to fork out that much. I’d want to use it for a while first.

South Beach

I decided I had become too big a sugar addict and needed to go on a diet. So I decided to do South Beach because in the past I thought the food was great. I started yesterday at 198.4 lbs.

Today I was at 195.4. I know it is all water, but that’s part of the loss. The book says you will lose 8-13 lbs in the first two weeks. I’d be happy to lose 8. If I lost 10 I’d feel about done. 🙂

Had pretty big sugar cravings yesterday, and they aren’t totally gone today. They say they last about 3 days. I’m looking forward to them being gone.

The food on phase 1 isn’t as good as phase 2. But I’ll stick it out for a couple of weeks or 10 lbs.

Eating For Life: Green Chilie Enchiladas

Decided to cook out of the Eating For Life cookbook tonight. Main course was Green Chili Enchiladas. They turned out pretty good. Very messy to make.

Challenges included the messy part, dipping the tortillas in the green chili sauce before filling them. That was slimy, but also the corn tortillas I got broke at the slightest bending. And I think they may have been smaller than Bill was expecting. But they did make 9 to the recommended 8.

Taste was good. You boil the chicken – which is very bland at that point. Then you shred it. Then you saute 4 green onions, a seeded, minced jalapeno, and 2 table spoons of cilantro for two minutes. Then you add the chicken and some of the green chili sauce and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

Then you messily fill and roll the tortillas and put them in a bake pan. Pour the rest of the chili sauce on them and 1/2 a cup of low fat cheese. Then bake for 15 minutes.

The tortillas come out crisp. The filling is very flavorful. Actually a bit spicy, even though they had me seed the pepper. I did pick a fairly large one.


Eating For Life
Bill Phillips; Buy New: $22.05

First Fire and Burned Pan

Tip: Don’t leave a dry pan heating while you mes in place.

Last night I was making Chicken With Garlic and Shallots, which starts by sauteing the chicken in 2 table spoons of water. I wanted to add the chicken and oil to a hot pan so I put the pan on the stove, on high. Then I decided to peal the shallots. I dropped the small amount of oil in before putting in the chicken and it burst into flame.

Grabbed it and took it outside to let it burn out. Which it did, but permanently marked my stainless steel pan. It’s now black and nothing gets it off. I liked that pan. I wonder if I can still use it even though it is ugly.

Sick

I was out of town last week and have been sick all of this week. I haven’t quit blogging or cooking, just waiting to get well.

Update:

This entry is too short for the format.

So I’m adding some lines to make it fill out.

Knife Class

Went to the Sur La Table knife class last night and it was fun. Longer than I expected, but that was good. I felt I got my money’s worth.

The teacher was Ed McCain who has his own cooking blog. He was a lot of fun as a teacher, and branched out from just knives to tell us about other kitchen gear as well.

He’s not real hip on Rachel Ray, but gave Alton a thumbs up, saying Good Eats was the best show on the Food Network.

I had read most of what we learned, from holding the knife to julienne cutting, but there is a big difference between reading and see it in action and actually getting to practice while someone who knows what they are doing is there. I guess if we could just learn by watching we’d all be Bruce Lee in no time.

What did we do?

We diced an onion. We julienned an onion. My cuts were too big, but I think I can do better next time. Now I just need a good recipe for a South Beach French Onion Soup.

I know the onion was first, but I’m not sure about the order of the rest of the things.

We cut carrots on the bias. This turned out to be pretty easy as long as you got the angle right. Ed says doing this gives you more cooking surface, which means more flavor. It also just looks better. After we had the bias cuts, we stacked two or three on top of each other and cut them into slices, which looked nice. I had a little trouble with them sliding in the middle of my cuts. Sliding while you are cutting is bad.

By the way there were two people cut during the class. I wasn’t either one. Also they used Krenshaw Shun 8″ Chef’s knifes for the class. I took my own knife.

We did a batonnet cut of a potato. Again my cuts were to big, and my potato had a bad spot inside that cause about half of it not to be used in the french fries they made out of them.

There was a break where most of the class ended up gathered around the knife case while Ed told us about first knives and then mandolins and then other general gear.

Back in class we cut up a tomato. I forget the name of this cut, but you basically cut the tomato into wedges. Then you take a wedge, hold it skin side down and cut parallel to the board from the tip to the stem of the tomato, removing all the meat and seeds from the center of the tomato.

Then we sliced the tomato into julienne strips, and turned them and diced. We ended up with little tomato dices for use in a brusheta(spelling?).

We also chopped parsley. Not much new hear, except Ed said we were only suppose to cut the parsley twice. First you bunch it up and feed it to a rocking blade, making very thin slices. Then you hold the front of the knife on the table and chop through with the rest of the blade.

Garlic was smashed under the blade and then mushed on the cutting board with a little salt to act as an abrasive. This turned out surprisingly sticky. Of course smacking a clove of garlic with garlic smasher or using a garlic press produce better results. Seeing what the final product was suppose to look like, I now understand how garlic can be used where the big chunks I’ve ended up with seem strange.

Almost forgot, before the presentation of the garlic Ed had Beverly demonstrate the garlic peeler. This thing is the most awesome cooking gadget ever. I use a lot more garlic now that I have it because it makes skinning it much easier.

The last cut we learned was a chiffonade. Normally you do this with basel, but we used spinach leaves. I think I did this one best because I was starting to get the hang of cutting thin.

As a round up, Ed swears by silicon bakeware. Some people on the good eats forum have had real trouble with this stuff. I’m not baking right now anyway.

He says a silicon baster is better than a paint brush, and way easier to clean. I may get one of these in the near future because my brush is a pain.

I would recommend the class to anyone who wants to learn how to use a knife like a chef would.