Still Disinfecting Your Grocery Items? You Can Stop Now

I have a Covid shelf in my Pandemic Pantry which can now be redeployed.

The question is what do I do with all of those disinfectant wipes I bought?

Consistent self-monitoring of weight: a key component of successful weight loss maintenance — Random Thoughts 01.02.21

Consistent self-weighing may help individuals maintain their successful weight loss by allowing them to catch weight gains before they escalate and make behavior changes to prevent additional weight gain. While change in self-weighing frequency is a marker for changes in other parameters of weight control, decreasing self-weighing frequency is also independently associated with greater weight gain.

Consistent self-monitoring of weight: a key component of successful weight loss maintenance — https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18198319/

And another year of the lifelong struggle begins. I’d be lying if I said all of this effort is easy. It would also be a lie if I said substantial weight loss is easy. The hard truth is everyone is different and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. We are all somewhere along the continuum as we trudge ahead in year two of the Great Pandemic. In writing the memoir genre stands alone. The author picks and chooses what she wants to share. But memories dim with age and the memories themselves change over time. Many just disappear never to be brought to the surface again. Other memories get fleshed out by the memoirist and a really good piece of memoir writing is always part fiction. For the writer this technique is especially useful. We write with the intent to tell our stories even if some of the facts are muddled or made up.

I step onto The Digital Devil nearly every day. You might think I’m OCD (and in fact I’ve wondered that myself). But I’m not OCD because I know that 75% of people who have lost a lot of weight and kept it off weigh themselves at least once a week and 36% weigh themselves daily according to published research. This March marks 14 years of feeding information to The National Weight Control Registry http://www.nwcr.ws/. Here’s proof I didn’t make this up:

Yes Eagle Eyes, same institution where Dr. Lee did his residency.

2020 was the year I got serious again about my weight. I’m where I want to be so 2021 is maintenance mode. Some the behavioral changes I made last year were easy. Other changes came about from the virus and turned out to be positives from a weight loss perspective. This year has just started and I’m not confident how long beer will remain on the Don’t Have It In the House List. All I know is no beer makes it a hell of a lot easier to keep my weight where I want it to be. At the same time a good beer is pure heaven on earth.

Due to the holidays there are two packages of tiny chocolate peanut butter cups in the Pandemic Pantry. I over bought chocolate and The Boss didn’t bake as many cookies as she could have. These tasty nasties belong on the Don’t Have It In the House List. But so far both bags are unopened. I’m not confident about the shelf life of these things. Could be short. Time to stop thinking about chocolate and get back to writing my future best seller.

YIKES! How did these things get in the house?

Black Eyed Peas – Pandemic Version 2021

Aliens wearing headlamps skinning up a mountain somewhere Aspen CO

I make black eyed peas once a year for New Year’s Day.  For good luck and good leftovers. 

I was at the grocery store yesterday and a lot of the shelves were bare. New Years plus an upcoming Oklahoma ice storm with predictions of up to 8 inches of snow sent a lot of people to the stores to clean out the shelves. I didn’t realize at the time that this year there would be no Badass Black Eyed Peas for the New Year. Not a single package of ground turkey. The only ground beef in the meat section were 10 pound rolls. I was fortunate to find some 80/20 in the butcher case. This too was almost gone. I forgot the bacon. The celery looked bad (but I knew I had one stalk left at the house). This year’s black eyed peas was definitely a Pandemic Pantry version.

Before we get to this year’s throw together recipe here are a few odd tips and tricks for this year’s version.

  • The beans still need to simmer for several hours.
  • The beans get an overnight soak in filtered water and you will change the water several times before preparation
  • Everyone in the pool? No, not this year.
  • Unlike other chili recipes this recipe has hints of chili.  But due to limited ingredients this year’s black eyed peas will be more chili-like.

So now that you know this isn’t Badass here’s what I had to do.

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 14 oz can tomatoes with chilies
1 qt no sodium chicken broth (or more, see odd tips)
2 T tomato paste
1 lb black eyed peas
1 lb ground beef 80/20
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. Turn burner up to high and heat up a large stock pot. When the pot is hot brown the beef and break up well. Don’t add any oil to the pot because you’ll have plenty of fat in the 80/20.
  4. When the meat is browned take off the burner and drain well.
  5. Bring the pot back to the burner and turn heat up to medium. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, garlic and saute until softened about five minutes. 
  6. Add the spices and saute another five minutes.
  7. Drain the beans (it’s OK if there’s a little water left).
  8. Now toss everything else into the pool.  Tomato paste, broth, tomatoes with chilies and the beans.
  9. The chicken broth needs to barely cover all of the ingredients.
  10. Bring to a boil then simmer for several hours with the pot partially covered.
  11. Check the pot and stir occasionally.  Add more broth as the peas cook and the dish thickens.
  12. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and your favorite hot sauce.
  13. 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). I also added dried cilantro. I would have used beef broth but I didn’t have any. As the dish thickens add more broth (I had an open container of organic vegetable broth so this is what I used).

This dish might taste better on day two but I haven’t even tasted it on day one yet.

Texas Corn Bread of course.

We asked five health professionals if they would dine indoors at a restaurant. Four said no – and one had a surprising answer.

Some interesting studies have looked at the airflow and air currents in restaurants in relation to where people became infected. In one, a person was 20 feet away from the source for only about 5 minutes, but the person was directly in the airflow and became infected. It’s a reminder of what we’ve been saying – there’s nothing magical about 6 feet. The high degree of community disease in the U.S. right now increases the likelihood that another diner in the restaurant is infected. If you are tired of cooking and need a break, takeout is the way to go.

Would you eat indoors at a restaurant? We asked five health expertshttps://theconversation.com/would-you-eat-indoors-at-a-restaurant-we-asked-five-health-experts-152300

Good article.

Random Thoughts Xmas Eve Day 2020

Thurs 12/24

“Keep a diary or journal. Record your reflections on your life experience in a journal. You will find this simple practice to be invaluable in your quest for wisdom.”

Warren G. Bennis 1925-2014

Wednesday 26 January 2005

I downloaded this application last night from the Treepad website. Someone on the planet took the time to create a tiny word processor in the Treepad file format. S(he) uploaded it to the site and the app is free. It can be used to document just about anything you want to track by date.

I’m going to use this app for tracking food consumption, exercise, and any other random thoughts that enter my mind. I will also use this space to capture notes on my progress towards my goals.

It is also a good space to write. Just write.

I started keeping a journal 15 years ago. Bennis was brilliant and 100% correct in saying keeping a journal is invaluable in your quest for wisdom. I don’t feel I’m wise enough yet so I keep writing. Most of what I’ve written will never be read by anyone other than me. And for some strange reason that bothered me. When I started a blog I was troubled by sharing my most intimate thoughts online. As the years have passed I’ve begun sharing more online. I came to the realization that if I only help one person through sharing my life experiences it’s worth it. Even if that help is merely my One Rotisserie Chicken, 50 Meals – #3 Sour Cream Chicken Enchilada Casserole recipe.

This morning I did the Old Person Hour at the grocery store. Not exactly the best time to do your grocery shopping because there were a lot of empty spots on the shelves and restocking had just started. It was hard to tell which items were unavailable due to hoarding. Still managed to get everything I had on my list except fresh cilantro, a specific brand of tortilla chips and canned green chilies. The lack of chilies is a hoarding thing but no tortilla chips is a restocking issue. Trust me on this.

I must have stood in front of a neatly stacked tower of light beer for at least five minutes. Before me was a new offering from a major brewery, low carb, low calories (probably tasteless too). At this very moment I realized my fat jeans were feeling kind of loose and baggy. I didn’t buy any beer. The holidays are hard enough for those of us struggling with our weight. I ate three cookies yesterday! So for the rest of this holiday season beer stays on the Don’t Have It in the House List.

Losing weight is hard. Keeping the weight off is harder. Remember not to get too high nor too low. Make the The 90% Solution your strategy. I’m probably around 60/40 now but always strive to do better. Which reminds me, I should work on my book today.

Pandemic Pantry One Bean Chili

chili madness

See Three Bean Chili Madness for my odd tips and tricks for making chili. Or not. Up to you.

It’s snowing today so clearly chili had to be made. I made a trip to the grocery store yesterday but didn’t have chili on the brain so I was missing some ingredients. I know I had two green peppers in the fridge but somehow I used them both yesterday. No worries because part of the Pandemic Pantry mindset is to use whatever is on hand, improvise, and try not to waste any food. So if you don’t have two cups of leftover sauteed onions and peppers sitting in the fridge, it’s OK. Use a fresh pepper. No stewed tomatoes? No problem, use what you have on the shelf. Sub ground beef for ground turkey. Let your provisions and imagination be your guide.

1 T extra virgin olive or grapeseed oil
1 /2 medium sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cups leftover sauteed onions and green pepper from last night’s dinner of faux fajitas OR 1 large green pepper
2 tsp garlic powder OR 2 cloves fresh garlic chopped
1 tsp each oregano, paprika, chili powder, cumin
1 can (15 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 cup low sodium beef broth

1 small can mild green chilies
3 T tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 pound dried pinto beans
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 OR use the quick soak method of bringing to a boil, cover and let sit for one hour.
  2. 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.  Leave out the tomatoes until later.  (No salt and no chili powder yet).
  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 (if using fresh) until softened. Add the garlic (fresh or powder) and saute for another minute.
  5. Add the meat and brown.
  6. Add red wine and cook off the alcohol.
  7. Add the stewed tomatoes and break up the tomato chunks into smaller chunks. Add tomato paste, stir well and simmer until mixture thickens.
  8. Time to toss everyone else into the pool.  Spices, tomatoes, chilies, broth, cooked beans.
  9. Simmer for several hours.  Stir occasionally.  Add more broth if the chili gets too thick.
  10. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and your favorite hot sauce.
  11. Yum.

More odd tips

Don’t add salt until the beans are cooked through and soft.  If your chili powder has salt in it I would add after the beans have softened. The recipe will make approximately eight servings. You need Texas Corn Bread with this or ANY chili. I’m not kidding. As always this chili is mild because you can always add the heat but if you make the chili too spicy to begin with…good luck. I had some kidney beans but decided not to put them in this chili.

This recipe is not in the book pictured.  But I always flip through the book to see what other cooks put in their chili. Besides, I love the cover.

Mid-afternoon seasoning adjustments

You’ll need more than one cup of broth. I’ll end up using between one and two cups to get the consistency where I want it to be. I might change the OR for garlic powder and fresh garlic to AND. Added more onion powder, chili power, dried cilantro, salt and pepper. The beans are soft and will get softer because I’m letting the chili go another two hours on the stove.

Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is used to thicken and enhance the flavor and color of sauces, pasta fillings, salad dressings, soups, stews, chili, or in any items where you’d like the tomato flavor to stand out. You can coat sliced vegetables (such as potatoes, parsnips, plantains, or mushrooms) with tomato paste and bake or grill to create a tangy crust. Friends of ours use tomato paste as a sandwich spread, instead of ketchup. Use it sparingly, however, because tomato paste has an intense flavor. If you are using only a portion of a can of tomato paste remember to store the remainder in plastic or glass, never metal, and never, ever in the can (no, we have not been peeking into your refrigerator). If you like, you can freeze properly-stored tomato paste until it is needed.

Creative Use of Tomato Paste
Originally posted on December 02, 2020 by The VRG Blog Editor — https://www.vrg.org/blog/2020/12/02/creative-use-of-tomato-paste/

Now I know I’m not the only crazy cook who freezes tomato paste. I typically buy the larger 12 ounce can, use what I need for what’s cooking and freeze the rest. Use a piece of plastic wrap large enough to hold the leftover paste in the shape of a small sausage. Mold your leftover paste into this tubular shape and freeze. The next time you need tomato paste, remove from the freezer, unwrap carefully and with a sharp knife cut off what you need. The paste will defrost quickly in your hot dish. Re-wrap and put back in the freezer. Repeat as needed.

Eat More Dried Fruit

The researchers found that people who ate dried fruit were generally healthier than those who did not, and on days when people ate dried fruit they consumed greater amounts of some key nutrients than on days when they skipped. However, they also found that people consumed more total calories on days when they ate dried fruit.

Previous research has found that poor diet contributes to nearly half of deaths from cardiovascular disease in the U.S., with a lack of fruit being a major factor. According to the researchers, fruits provide an abundance of nutrients, including fiber, potassium and several heart-healthy bioactives.

Penn State. “Eating dried fruit may be linked with better diet quality and health markers.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201124150849.htm (accessed November 30, 2020).

Journal Reference:

Valerie K. Sullivan, Muzi Na, David N. Proctor, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Kristina S. Petersen. Consumption of Dried Fruits Is Associated with Greater Intakes of Underconsumed Nutrients, Higher Total Energy Intakes, and Better Diet Quality in US Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007-2016.. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2020.08.085

Nut Butter Ball Crescent Cookies

  • One cup butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1-2 cups pecans, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix butter with sugar until very light and fluffy.
  3. Add salt, extract, flour, nuts and mix well.
  4. Chill until dough is easy to handle.
  5. Shape into crescents.
  6. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake until light brown, 12-15 minutes.
  8. While the cookies are warm, dust with confectioner’s sugar.

“I thought you said you didn’t like these cookies>”

“No, I never said I don’t like these cookies. They’re just my least favorite cookie you bake.”

Least favorite means I like the other cookies you bake better than this one. But the damage to our relationship was already done. My penance was being limited to one cookie. One. Cookie. Ouch!

Note the last two lines on the recipe card. Yes, these cookies are much better with chocolate. (and the picture of the cookie is for the reader who complained once about not enough food pictures).