More Random Thoughts on Sunday After Thanksgiving 2020

Sunday 11/29

Never get too high, never get too low. Trust the Process which has been developed and refined for nearly 45 years of weight loss followed by weight gain followed again with weight loss… The Truth Machine today displayed 177 and I am both pleased and relieved. I survived another Thanksgiving feast! Reading this you might think I’m compulsive about my weight. Guilty as charged. You get kind of obsessed with your weight when you never want to be 370 pounds again, ever. I am 70 inches tall. In high school I was the shortest (and heaviest) power forward on the hardwood. I had a decent shot but was better at rebounding because I took up so much space. I was also Captain of the tennis team but that’s a whole other story.

The roller coaster of shifting weights has been the story of my life. A constant struggle. A battle between the food within reach and my brain, one saying yes, the other saying well, here we go again. Part of the problem of losing a lot of weight is complacency. Knowing what works and what to do is not the same thing as doing that thing. I got lazy and allowed myself to balloon back up to 200-205. The Truth Machine had lost its policing effect. My brain started rationalizing, hey it’s a hell of a lot better than 370! Besides most people gain weight as they age…

I’m old enough now to remember what life was like before unsocial media. One (of the many) things I dislike about unsocial media are those dumb ass reminders in your online photo collections: One Year Ago Today…Two Years Ago This Week, etc. Well, at Thanksgiving this year for me, this unsocial media feature got a bit less unsavory.

“I saw a Memory on my photo timeline the other day. We were on the beach in Rhode Island and you looked heavier than you do now.”

“You mean fatter.”

“Not fatter, just heavier. You look really good now.”

And this ends the story of the best Thanksgiving ever observing Covid-19 pandemic guidelines while preparing turkey in a way you’ve never done before. Random Thoughts the Day After Thanksgiving 2020. The turkey turned out great and I got validation my weight loss efforts were working (again). The Mojo is back. I’ll be working on my book for a few hours today.

Random Thoughts the Day After Thanksgiving 2020

Friday 11/27

Remember the Mantra: never get too high, never get too low. The Truth Machine this morning stared back at me with the number 179. Yes, we had a very good Thanksgiving how did you know? Too much sugar, too many calories, too much of a good time. But remember the mantra. I’m convinced my number will come down again. Maybe not today or tomorrow but the number will come back down.

A random encounter at the grocery store may have changed my Thanksgiving turkey buying habits forever. As I was mindlessly staring at the frozen birds another shopper came over, excused himself and reached for what appeared to be a very small turkey breast. He already had one in his other hand so I just had to ask,

“What is that?”

“Boneless breast. My wife doesn’t want any other type of turkey for Thanksgiving and told me to get two.”

I picked up one of these from the freezer section and examined it. I’d never seen a boneless turkey breast roast before. Bone in yes, boneless no. What the hell why not? I bought one only to be told by MY wife when I got home to go get another one so we can have leftovers. Which I did. The only picture I snapped was the pre-roasting picture. I didn’t take a picture when the turkey came out of the oven because the turkey skin didn’t brown but the veggies in the pan did.

Uncooked and not recommended to be consumed without cooking first.
  1. Defrost for two days in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  3. Remove the outer wrapping, pat dry with paper towels and do not remove the string webbing holding the breast meat together in a roast shape.
  4. In a roasting pan scatter chunks of onion, celery and carrots (peeled or unpeeled, up to you).
  5. Season the veggies well. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, and parsley ( I couldn’t find any rosemary or that would have gone into the mix). Sprinkle the veggies with some olive oil.
  6. Place the roasting rack in the pan, spreading the veggies enough so that the rack sits firmly in the pan. Position your breasts so that they don’t fall through the rack.
  7. Rub olive oil (or melted butter, your choice) on the breasts. Season well. I used the same seasonings as in Step #5 with the addition of onion powder. No rosemary unfortunately.
  8. Tent the pan with aluminum foil and roast for 1.5 hours. Remove the foil at this point and continue roasting for another 30 minutes. (broil for five minutes if you want to try and get the skin brown for pictures).
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes, foil tent back on to keep the meat warm. Using a pair of kitchen scissors carefully cut and remove the string webbing.
  10. Slice and serve.

Each boneless breast is approximately 3 pounds and will provide 4-6 servings. Since our Pandemic Inspired gathering was 4 adults and 2 Tiny Humans we had plenty of turkey for leftovers. Two of the four adults are dark meat aficionados and we sacrificed our personal preferences for ease of preparation. Everyone was quite pleased with how the boneless roasts delivered very moist and flavorful turkey.

Mmmm…good turkey!
Just avocado for me please.

One of the Tenderest Steaks

The duo compare the flat iron to a famously tender and expensive steak: the filet. “The flat iron is the second most tender muscle on the animal but it has so much more flavor, and is a fraction of the price,” Turley says. “The customers that come in for the first time…they think ‘I gotta get the most expensive thing, that’s going to be the best thing.’ You don’t have to…this is a better value and you’ll be super happy with it,” says Young.

Meat Experts Butcher One of the Tenderest Steaks — https://www.eater.com/21547837/meat-experts-butcher-flat-iron-steak-beef-chuck

There isn’t a home cook alive who doesn’t appreciate a good value at the grocery store. In fact I was at the store today and couldn’t help but notice shoppers routinely ignore the flat iron steaks and head straight to tenderloins. I had some already in the freezer but I picked up some more.

Source: https://www.certifiedangusbeef.com/

Note this cut is also known as Top Blade Steak.

Source: https://www.certifiedangusbeef.com/

Due to the strip of cartilage in Top Blade you’ll do better low and slow with moist heat. Flat Iron Steaks are cut to remove the cartilage and is the better cut for grilling. But none of this really matters in our house because these are two of my favorite cuts for pot roast, stew, stroganoff, etc. Tri-tip is another good choice for low and slow treatment as in my Tri-Tip Beef Stew.

This post is prelude to my Beef Stroganoff post which I’ll get around to writing one of these days. Promise.

Sloppy Turkey Joes

It’s been four months since Covid-19 changed our lives. For most of us fortunate enough to stay healthy we have adjusted to spending more time at home. More time at home for me has meant more cooking. Breakfast is typically a simple no cook meal. Sometimes I’ll cook lunch. Most nights we’ll sit down to a home cooked meal. But after four months you try not to repeat too many dishes and vow to find/make something different. I’ve bought more cookbooks than I care to admit. I’ve spent a lot of time on food blogs looking for something tasty to try. But despite the plethora of recipes on the planet sometimes you just can’t decide what to make.

“Why don’t you make Sloppy Joes?”

Why do I make life so hard on myself sometimes?

The sheer beauty of a dish like Sloppy Joes is its simplicity. This was one of the first recipes our sons learned how to cook when they were kids. Ground meat, ketchup, mustard, done. The kid recipe came from a cookbook for kids that has long since disappeared from my collection. Any Sloppy Joe recipe is simple, easy to fix, and tasty. It’s the perfect recipe to get your kids on a cooking path.

I haven’t written much on the Pandemic Pantry lately. The stores around me are well stocked and my pantry is well stocked. The trick is to pick up a few things at the store every time you shop as potential pantry items. If you use them during the week great but if not,  just toss them in the pantry or freezer for later use. I always pick up a package of ground turkey when shopping. There was an entire package of onion buns in the freezer (if you don’t freeze your bread you should). I like to have bell peppers in the vegetable drawer and I always have onions.

And there you have it. Turkey Joes. Psychologists say it’s important for people to recall and share memories. Recalling and sharing helps us find meaning and connect with others. I believe I’ve found true meaning and can connect with others by remembering and sharing my Sloppy Joe story. If you’re interested in making the original kid version use ground beef, ketchup, and mustard. Leave the rest of the ingredients out. I’m not kidding.

Inspiration: The Chunky Chef (because her SEO consultant is doing a great job).

Turkey Joes

  • 1 pat butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, small dice
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, small dice
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
    several dashes of hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat butter and oil in large skillet over high heat.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper, reduce heat to medium and saute for a few minutes until the vegetables have sweated.
  3. Turn the heat back up to high and add turkey. Break apart into crumbles and saute until the meat is no longer pink. Do not drain the meat/veggie mixture.
  4. Everything else in the pool. Mix well and simmer over low heat for around 15 minutes.
  5. I hope you remembered to defrost some buns.

Makes enough for 4 large or 6 smaller sandwiches if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Update 07.29.20

During a recent conversation with my favorite nephew in the United States I happened to mention the kid cookbook that went missing.  The Boss picked up on my error and was rather quick to correct me.

“Is this the book we don’t have anymore?”

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As a matter of fact yes it is.  Naturally I had to find the Joe recipe.

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So there you have it.  Proof of the original Joe recipe that I used to start the kids on their own lifelong love of cooking.  Next Gen up will make recipes from this cookbook too.

And yet another reason why my wife of way too many years is The Boss.

 

The Pandemic Pantry – Shopping Day 07.02.20

The original Household Executive order from an earlier Pandemic Pantry post has now been amended twice.  The following is the Amended Household Executive Order for grocery shopping:

You are now allowed to go to more than one store per week so long as I need or want something that you cannot find at a single store.  You no longer have to shop with the old people and are permitted to go at times when store traffic isn’t busy. You will always wear a mask and keep your distance from everyone else in the store. You may wander up and down the aisles like you usually do (but do it quickly).  You no longer have to abide by the original “do not shower before going and decontaminate immediately upon return” section of the original decree.  The decontamination protocol is suspended for the time being but may be reinstated at any time in the future without advance notice.

When you return from the store you will wash your hands for 20 seconds then put the groceries away.  Place the bags of grocery items on top of the newspaper on top of the kitchen island.  Any and all paper and plastic bags will not be recycled.  They will go into the garbage along with the newspaper that covered the island surface.  Disinfect the items you think need disinfecting.  If you choose not to disinfect an item I must be informed of these items and agree not to touch them for 72 hours.

Don’t buy any more tuna.

The grocery store was not busy at 3:00 pm but busier than I expected.  I managed to find everything on my list.

  • Toilet paper and paper towels were well stocked.
  • Cleaners and disinfectants aisle was not.
  • Meat was plentiful.
  • Fresh fruits, vegetables, bagged salads all in ample supply.
  • Dairy, cheeses, eggs were well stocked.

But the best part of my shopping trip had nothing to do with food.  I estimated around 90% of the customers were wearing masks.  I only wish more of us would care more about the health of others and wear masks.  The number of grocery stores I shop at now is a short list.  The behavior of both store management and the customers pretty much determine where I shop.  As an example at the liquor store I’ve been shopping at for over 16 years  all of the employees wear masks.  If you decide to shop indoors you must wear a mask.  Despite the fact this store offers curbside minimal contact purchasing I like shopping in store.  Plus the times I’ve entered the store I’m typically the only customer there.  Apparently most of the other customers prefer curbside or delivery.

Stay safe.  Wear a mask.  Don’t go to these places or events:

Serious7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pandemic Pantry – Shopping Day 05.02.20

The Household Executive order from an earlier Pandemic Pantry post has not been allowed to expire.   The order however was amended.  The following is the Amended Household Executive Order for grocery shopping:

“You are now allowed to go to more than one store per week so long as I need or want something that you cannot find at a single store.  You no longer have to shop with the old people and are permitted to go at times when store traffic isn’t busy. You will continue to wear a mask and keep your distance from everyone else in the store. You may wander up and down the aisles like you usually do. You will not shower before going. When you come back you will wash your hands for 20 seconds then put the groceries away. Disinfect the items you think need disinfecting. The plastic bags will not be recycled. They will go into the garbage. You will then go into the laundry room where you will strip down and put your clothes into the washing machine. Then and only then you go to our bathroom to decontaminate (and don’t use my bar of soap, use your body wash).”

The grocery store was less of a scavenger hunt this week.  There were still some empty shelves but I managed to buy most of the items on my list.  With all of the supply chain issues still ongoing I didn’t know what to expect.  Here are my observations from this morning.  Bear in mind your specific locale may be a lot different.

  • Toilet paper and paper towels were back in stock (limited brand choices and limited supply).
  • Cleaners and disinfectants aisle was empty.
  • Meat was plentiful.  Those creepy scary pictures of empty meat cases you see online?  That was not a problem here.
  • Fresh fruits, vegetables, bagged salads all in good supply (except zucchini and I wanted some zucchini).
  • Frozen french fries were available (another internet horror story of shortages).
  • Dairy, cheeses, eggs absolutely well stocked.

Retails prices on meat are creeping upwards.  So while the supplies are plentiful I picked up a few extra items for the freezer.  Last week I found frozen turkeys for $0.49 a pound so I have a ten pound bird in the freezer.  Here is my Pandemic Pantry Freezer Supply:

  • The turkey
  • Three or four loaves of garlic bread (one might be five cheese bread)
  • Rolls
  • Several loaves of whole grain bread
  • Two deep dish pie shells
  • Spinach and potato pirogies
  • Spinach and cheese ravioli
  • Cheese tortellini
  • Corn, peas, spinach, butternut squash
  • Two packages ground turkey
  • Chicken breasts
  • Two packages top blade beef
  • Two small sirloin steaks

So now between the canned/dried pantry items, freezer items, and fresh finds when found we should be OK even if the excrement hits the rotating blades.  I can shop at two stores a week.  I had already bought some items at my first allowed grocery stop two days ago (because someone in the house tosses dairy on the expiration date and we needed ice cream).

I’ve been even more diligent about keeping my food waste low since the pandemic started, since our visits to the grocery store are few and far between. So when I was taking stock of what was on hand the other day, the puzzle pieces started to move into place in my head…

Beth at https://www.budgetbytes.com/about/

It’s comforting to know your thoughts are shared by others during the Greater Depression.   I have definitely reduced the amount of food waste in our household.  Shopping trips for grocery items are definitely reduced in number and some trips will be bountiful while other trips less so.  Nice to know I’m not the only cook who stares at “the puzzle pieces” to figure out what to make.

IMG_1966

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pandemic Pantry – Shopping Day 04.26.20

In case you missed last week’s Pandemic Pantry post I have copied over the household Executive Order:

“You can go to the store and shop with the old people. You will wear a mask and keep your distance from everyone else in the store. You will not wander up and down the aisles like you usually do. You will not shower before going. When you come back you will wash your hands for 20 seconds then put the groceries away. Disinfect the items you think need disinfecting. The plastic bags will not be recycled. They will go into the garbage. You will then go into the laundry room where you will strip down and put your clothes into the washing machine. Then and only then you go to our bathroom to decontaminate.”

So I guess you could say I was surprised this morning when The Boss said,

“You can go to two stores today.”

Two stores!  I was pretty excited!  This modern day scavenger hunt had a greater chance of success.  Two stores!  I was so excited I forgot my mask.  No worries though.  I used the disposable mask in the car and disposed of it after my trip.  I remembered my list, wallet, phone, keys, and disinfectant wipes.  It was time to start the hunt.

My first stop was the big box drugstore on the corner where I found both toilet paper and paper towels.  I hadn’t purchased either of these paper goods in over a month.  The drugstore had a few packages remaining on the shelves.  I asked one of the employees if there was a purchase limit.  Two she said.  So in addition to vitamins, allergy meds and a nail buffer I scored two giant packages of TP and PT.  If I found nothing at my second stop the shopping trip/hunt would have been a success.

Store #2 was the grocery store.  My list was a short list but this was a scavenger hunt.  What could I find that I might have use for later?  The broccoli crowns were not the freshest but I bought some anyway.  Green beans, a few apples, strawberries, new potatoes and a head of green leaf lettuce, one Roma tomato, one green pepper.  No mushrooms.  I bought the best two in the bulk mushroom bin and left around six for other shoppers.  Tortillas, check.  Whole wheat buns and two loaves of garlic bread, check.  A bag of frozen spinach and ricotta raviolis.  A dozen eggs for $0.99 (the last dozen cost $3.33).  Some cheese.  A back up jar of salsa, a back up jar of fruit spread.

I was about to call the hunt over and a success when I found frozen turkeys for $0.49 a pound (it’s the item under bananas).  For under five bucks I got a 10 pound turkey.

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So tonight’s dinner was meatloaf, mashed and fresh wilted spinach.  I also picked up some ground beef since many of the remaining meat items didn’t appeal to me.

Two stores!  Paper towels AND toilet paper!  A whole turkey for less than five dollars!  And I didn’t have to shop with the old people.

 

 

 

Badass Black Eyed Peas

chili madness

I make black eyed peas once a year for New Year’s Day.  For good luck and good leftovers.  Every year I always say to myself,

“Self.  You need to write the recipe down.”

And each and every year I forget.  This year however is different.  A friend asked for the recipe.  So I actually sat my butt down into my chair and started writing.  I think my 2020 version of this recipe is better than in years gone by.  But I can’t be absolutely certain because I never wrote down any other versions of this annual bean concoction.  What I am certain of is the 2020 version is Badass.

Before we get to the recipe there’s a few odd tips and tricks you need to know.

  • The beans needs to simmer for several hours.
  • The beans get an overnight soak in filtered water and you will change the water several times.
  • Everyone in the pool.  I don’t cook the beans separately for this dish.
  • Unlike other chili recipes this recipe has hints of chili.  Don’t try to make this a chili because it’s not chili.

So now that you know not to call these beans a chili here’s how to make it Badass.

4 slices center cut bacon
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp each smoked paprika, chili powder
1 T Mexican oregano
1 T cumin
1 qt low sodium chicken broth
3 T tomato paste
1 lb black eyed peas
1 lb ground turkey 85/15
Salt & pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

  1. Place the dried beans into a stock pot large enough to hold the beans when fully plumped up.  Rinse the beans with water several times.  Fill the pot with fresh water and soak overnight.
  2. In the morning drain then add fresh water to the beans. Change the soaking water at least twice.
  3. In a large stock pot fry the bacon in the olive oil until the strips are crisp and the fat is rendered.
  4. Saute the onion, celery, and green pepper until softened about five minutes.  Add the garlic and saute another minute.
  5. Add the turkey and brown, breaking up the clumps as you go.
  6. Toss everything else into the pool.  Spices, tomato paste, broth, and beans.
  7. The black eyed peas should be drained and the chicken broth needs to barely cover all of the ingredients.
  8. Bring to a boil then simmer for several hours with the pot partially covered.
  9. Check the pot and stir occasionally.  Add more broth as the peas cook and the dish thickens.
  10. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and your favorite hot sauce.
  11. Yum.  Makes about 10-12 servings.

More odd tips

Don’t add salt until the beans are cooked through and soft.  There is plenty of salt in the chili powder and broth so salt last.  As you adjust the seasonings you may want to add more chili powder and/or oregano.  I tend to use garlic powder (my less than top secret favorite flavor enhancer).

This dish tastes better on day two.

Texas Corn Bread of course.

This recipe is not in the book pictured above.  But I like the cover and I’m hoping the author gets the hint.

For my vegan and vegetarian readers this dish is neither vegan nor vegetarian.  Feel free to make your own veggie version with a nice organic vegetable or mushroom broth.

Three Bean Chili Madness

chili madness

Before we get to the recipe there’s a few odd tips and tricks you need to know.

  • This chili cooks all day long but I didn’t use a slow cooker.  It was a cold day and I was hunkered down in the house.
  • The beans get an overnight soak and are cooked separately first for several hours.
  • You make beans first then add the beans to the meats.
  • Unlike other chili recipes this is very mild.  You add your own heat at serving time.

So now that you know this is a pain in the rump recipe (time wise) here we go.

1 T extra virgin olive or grapeseed oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp each oregano, paprika, chili powder, cumin, dried cilantro
1 can (15 oz) no salt diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) low sodium chicken broth

1 small can mild green chilies
3 T tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 C each dry Mayocoba beans, pinto beans, and light red kidney beans
1 lb grass fed ground beef 80/20
1 lb ground turkey
Salt & pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

  1. Place the dried beans into a stock pot large enough to hold the beans when fully plumped up.  Rinse the beans with water several times.  Fill the pot with fresh water and soak overnight.
  2. In the morning drain then add fresh water to the beans.  Bring to a boil, add your soup recipe seasonings, then lower the heat down to a simmer.  The seasoning for the beans is based off my Sopa de Frijol con Vegetal soup recipe.  Substitute the three bean mix for the 100% pintos and leave out the tomatoes until later.  (No salt and the chili powder is also a no salt variety).
  3. Allow the beans to simmer for several hours.
  4. In a different large stock pot heat the oil and saute the onion, celery, and green pepper until softened.
  5. Add the meats and brown.
  6. Add red wine and cook off the alcohol.
  7. Time to toss everyone else into the pool.  Spices, tomatoes, chilies, broth, beans.
  8. Simmer for several hours.  Stir occasionally.  Add more water or broth if the chili gets too thick.
  9. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and your favorite hot sauce.
  10. Yum.

More odd tips

Don’t add salt until the beans are cooked through and soft.  The Mayocobo beans will break apart and make this chili creamy and thick (unless you add more broth or water).  The recipe will make approximately eight servings.  I used chicken broth instead of beef broth because I thought I had beef broth in the cupboard, looked and did not find it.  I found the beef broth the next day.  The package was sideways and I didn’t see it.  I used both ground beef and ground turkey because I didn’t buy enough ground beef and the meat to bean ratio was wrong.  I had ground turkey so I used it.  And that’s how this recipe turned into a beef and bird chili.

This recipe is not in the book pictured.  Lucky you.

Yogurt Marinade

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 T oregano

One of the benefits of a blog is quick accessibility to your recipes.

Except when you’re looking for something that you thought you posted but never did.  The plan was to toss together a quick Greek Salad from The Pioneer Woman and grill some chicken.  So the yogurt marinade came to mind but where was it?  The last time I remember seeing the recipe it was scribbled on a piece of scrap paper that more likely than not got thrown away.

For an Old Guy Playing With Technology I sometimes surprise myself.

I actually remembered to take a picture and save it to my online drafts folder.

I found it!