Archive for the ‘Food porn’ Category

Day One of the liquid diet has commenced. I was told many things about it, but somehow, they didn’t do it justice.

It sucks.

Profusely.

The lovely liquids... vanilla cream protein shake, beef broth and plain yogurt. Yum!

The lovely liquids… vanilla cream protein shake, beef broth and plain yogurt. Yum!

So far, since midnight, I’ve had 16 ounces of protein shake (probably the highlight), ½ cup of Jell-o, ½ cup of sugar-free pudding, 6 ounces of beef broth, and 5.5 ounces of plain Greek yogurt with some banana cream protein powder added to make it somewhat palatable. Oh, and unlimited water. I’m also having some orange PowerAde as I write this. That’s pretty good stuff.

I have to do this for three weeks?

WTF was I thinking?

It also dawned on me that 7 days from now, I’ll be post surgical and my life will have changed forever. I should be out of recovery and in my room with the PCA morphine drip going strong. Also, hopefully the catheter will be out. Yes, I know it was a fear of mine that will apparently come to fruition. They place it when surgery will be over an hour, which a bypass will be. I’m not going to lie… I’m still pretty freaked out about it.But I know I’m making the right move.

So, went with Supportive Partner Woman (most supportive!) to what we were calling, “The Last Supper.” Since we were close to Red Robin and we were both approaching stupid hungry, we opted for a burger and fries. I was a kind of good boy… I ordered mine wrapped in lettuce. It really hit the spot, though, and was sobering, as I have no idea if I’ll ever have fries again. I realize that the grilled fish at Red Lobster had the most votes, but we weren’t close to a Red Lobster. Maybe I’ll make that my first post-surgical meal out.

So, to sum up, it’s not been a particularly auspicious beginning to liquids. I can only hope it gets better.

I’m also going to attempt a visit to the Rec tonight before work and see how it goes. Figure I’ll stroll for a while and hopefully not feel too bad that I’m not totally killing it. It will seem really weird that I’m trying NOT to break a sweat. Go figure.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Song of the Day: Carry On – fun.

Currently reading: Red Storm Rising – Tom Clancy

If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results. ~ Jack Dixon

Supportive Partner Woman (Mistress of the Twittergraph!) and I did some cooking this weekend, trying to jump-start back to our healthier lifestyle. With everything going on, healthy eating wasn’t quite at the forefront, convenience was.

We made an excursion to Wegman’s on Saturday. This was our regular Wegman’s… in Mechanicsburg, PA. It’s in the ideal retail complex. You have Wegman’s, Best Buy, Target, Office Max and Chick-Fil-A all in one complex. It’s like Christmas. We found a really nice beef roast and decided we’d throw that in the slow cooker and I’d make some other stuff, since SPW (Slave to the Voter’s Guide!) had to work. Sunday morning, we cooperated on getting the roast ready, although SPW (Eater of tasty beef!) did the lion’s share of the prep. I just measured out broth and chopped carrots and potatoes. Once it was cooking away, I made lunch… tomato soup and grilled ham & cheese sandwiches. Used a boxed Trader Joe’s soup that was pretty tasty, but it was in the pantry.

Dinner!

After SPW (Queen of the slow cooker!) left for work, I got down to business. I started by opting to make from-scratch risotto for the first time. I used mushrooms, garlic, shallots, white wine and chicken stock, along with arborio rice and, well, I thought it turned out to be pretty good. Had the right level of stickiness, and it was the right texture. I had been dreading it, but the actual making process wasn’t that bad. I was amazed with the quantity of risotto 1.5 cups of arborio rice actually makes. It sucked up around 6.5 cups of liquid! I’m going to add the recipe to this post… I will be using it again, although probably not until I manage to eat the rest of this batch 🙂

Brings me to the next topic… leftovers. This is one place where Supportive Partner Woman and I disagree. She detests leftovers… I think they are the greatest thing ever. I like variety in my meals, but if I can have a nice, balanced meal without spending a ton of time to make it, well, I’m all for it.

In other changes, I start a long period of day shift this week. It will seem strange, but it also gives me more time to cook a fresh meal. Hopefully, Supportive Partner Woman will be able to come home for dinner on a regular basis once her job situation settles down. We shall see.

Here’s the risotto recipe. All measurements are not exact 🙂

Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients:
6 cups chicken broth – divided
3 tablespoons olive oil – divided
8 oz. white mushrooms thinly sliced
2 diced shallots (I had some in a jar, so I used those)
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Little Penguin pinot grigio)
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup Parmesan
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives (I omitted)
sea salt to taste
coarse ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
1) In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.

2) Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.

3) Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 20-30 minutes.

4) Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives, and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

There you have it. Just remember to be patient and keep stirring.

More tomorrow!

Song of the Day: The Forecast (Calls for Pain) – Robert Cray Band
Currently Reading: First Family – David Baldacci

Quote of the Day:

I don’t like food that’s too carefully arranged; it makes me think that the chef is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking. If I wanted a picture I’d buy a painting. – Andy Rooney

Continuing with the Disney eating marathon, I had some food porn I was hoping to share and talk about some other high points of our trip.

Our flight to Orlando was scheduled for a 6:15 departure from Baltimore, or, as we call it, the asscrack of dawn. We left the house around 3:15 AM and headed south. Many of you might remember the issues that I had with Southwest Airlines trying to book the flight in the first place. This was that trip. We all queued up in the cattle chute and prepared to board. Supportive Partner Woman and I had coveted “A” boarding slots and we managed to snag two seats about three rows back. SPW (bestest wife ever!) took the middle seat and I had the aisle. It was cramped, but in the good news department, I did not require a seat belt extender. Yay me.

The flight took off on time and I had loaded Killer Elite on the iPad for in-flight entertainment. I spent about an hour watching that and noticed a lot of activity, namely a flight attendant racing down the aisle with the AED, followed by a general call for trained medical personnel. Soon after, the captain came on board to say we were diverting to Charleston for a medical emergency. He must’ve had the 737 firewalled to get us in to Charleston as quickly as he did. The passenger was conscious when he was removed from the plane, and after refueling, we continued to Orlando, arriving around 45 minutes late. Whatever issues I might have had with Southwest, the flight crew really exhibited professionalism and handled the medical crisis like it happened every day.

We split up at that point… SPW went to claim the luggage, I went to pick up the car. I had booked a midsize and in Alamo’s midsize row were 14 minivans. And a Dodge Avenger. Sigh. I got in and headed back to the terminal to pick up SPW only to find that she had claimed the bags and thought she could catch up with me. Turns out she went below baggage claim and I had no way to get to her as that’s only open for buses. I sent her back to the baggage claim and I circled the airport again. Turns out the escalator she went up on took her to the ticketing level, which necessitated another trip around the terminal. Quite the comedy of errors.

Earl of Sandwich tomato soup with Earl’s Club and the Original 1762.

Anyway, we headed off to Disney’s BoardWalk Villas for the night. For those who are not familiar with the BoardWalk, it’s a really nice hotel, quite centrally located and within walking distance of Epcot. That alone makes it a favorite. This time, though, we were determined to spend a day outside of a park, so we got ourselves checked in and over to our room where was chilled for a while, then headed to Downtown Disney to grab some lunch. The weather was quite muggy, which made things a little sweaty, but we made our way to the Earl of Sandwich for lunch. This is one of our favorite spots… the food is tasty and reasonably priced and they offer AAA discounts which are actually better than the Disney Cast Member discount. Our normal MO is to buy two different sandwiches and split them… this time, we opted for the original, which consists of finely shaved hot roast beef with cheddar and horseradish and the Earl’s Club, which consists of roast turkey, applewood smoked bacon and swiss cheese, with lettuce and Roma tomato. We each added a drink and a cup of tomato soup and the total bill wound up being under $20. Best value on property. We shopped a bit, then took a pontoon boat out on the lake.

If you are opting to rent a boat, the best bet is to rent it from one of the Magic Kingdom resorts. That way you have over 400 acres of water to explore. It was a beautiful day to be out with a nice breeze and very little lake traffic.

Following that, we went back to the room to change before meeting some friends for dinner at Raglan Road. We haven’t seen these folks in many months, but it was great to catch up and enjoy a lovely meal. I opted for Raglan risotto with grilled chicken. The portion size was very nice and the food was flavorful, but not outstanding.

That concludes the food post today. More tomorrow when we talk about LeCellier!

 

Greetings!

I know, its been quite awhile. I started writing this from the laundry room of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. I know… I go to such interesting places on vacation. What can I say? It’s a gift.

So, it’s been about a month since I scribbled anything down. Just been crazy busy at Chez T and, well, just nothing really interesting to report. Done some stumbling recently, food-wise, not a serious backslide, but enough that my last doctor visit resulted in just a one-pound loss. In a month. Granted, I wasn’t working out like crazy… trying to keep the tempo down to prepare for our trip. Fat lot of good that did me.

See, after one day of serious walking, with preventative measures in places (Stubby cocooned in moleskin, his counterpart wearing a gel pad), I get a freakin’ blister NEXT TO THE GEL PAD!!!! This, as you can imagine, did not make me happy. Especially not with five days to go.

Supportive Partner Woman (de facto nurse of unparalleled skill!) then decreed an easier pace and began a regimen of rubbing my feet with ammonium lactate cream, which, according to the surgeon, is good stuff. This, coupled with Betadyne and gauze and a lot of moleskin, really enabled me to stay upright. It’s the one blessing of neuropathy… I can’t feel the pain of a blister. Looking back, I thing the problem was due to the crazy high humidity. It made the air chewy and we usually wound up with two showers a day.

So, for us a vacation to Disney World is more about the friends and the food than anything else. We paid two visits to Ohana for meeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaat on a stiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick! There’s an art to eating somewhat healthier at Ohana… that is to view it as a high protein meal. Just keep in mind that when the nice server brings a sizzling skewer of dripping meat, he or she will automatically adjust your request by a factor of three. So, if you would, in fact, like one more piece of steak, make sure you have friends to share it with, because you’re getting three giant pieces.

The food at Ohana is not bad… you start with the Ohana welcome bread, which is a sweet Hawaiian style bread that has a touch of pineapple flavor. Then you get a salad, which would be better with less dressing. It’s positively drowning. I’m pretty sure I saw a lettuce shred clinging desperately to a life ring as its mates all drowned in the Vinaigrette Sea.

The staff follows this with the chicken wings and dumplings. I’m not a huge fan of wings to start with and these are just meh, so I usually pass on them. The dumplings are awesome, though, and it takes a great deal of self-restraint to not totally strap on the feed bag. This is followed with the greens, which consist of snow peas and broccoli that are well prepared. The share a plate with some tasty lo mien.

After the BS is dispensed with, it’s on to the main event. The meat. See, Disney wants you to believe that Ohana means family, but in reality, Ohana means meat. Lots of meat. Lots and lots of meat. We’re talking meat with a capital MEAT. The room is dominated but an open wood fire cooking giant skewers of steak, chicken, pork and shrimp. I love the shrimp. It has a nice level of spiciness without being too much to numb the palate. The steak has a wonderful marinade… not sure what all is in it, other than garlic, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. Makes it very bold.

The chicken is pedestrian… not a ton of flavor, probably kept mild for people who don’t care for spice. The pork, though, is not that great. It’s usually a little overcooked and the BBQ sauce is way too sweet for my palate. I think the open fire is simply too hot and dries out the meat. Pork, IMHO, should be done low and slow with just enough sear on the outside to keep the juices in. Here’s a view of the cooking fire in action:

After the gorging is over, they hit you with dessert. They bring a banana bread pudding topped with vanilla ice cream. If that’s not enough, they will dump an Exxon Valdez sized load of caramel sauce on top. I’m lucky, though… since I have dietary restrictions, they usually bring me a nice plate of fresh fruit.

I will provide more food details over the next few days, but suffice it to say that even with all the food, I still managed to lose 2.5 pounds while away. So, not a total loss.

Talk to you again tomorrow.

Song of the Day: Gangnam Style – PSY
Currently Reading: The Tombs – Clive Cussler

Happy Monday everyone!

Standard Palace Burger

I hope this finds you well and that you all had decent weekends. I know Supportive Partner Woman (eater of crunchburgers!) and I did. Saturday dawned and SPW and I got some stuff done around the house, then headed to Cherry Hill, NJ, to meet our friend Fred at Bobby’s Burger Palace. This is a burger joint owned by Food Network chef Bobby Flay and it is possibly the best burger I’ve ever had in my life. I opted for the Palace Classic Burger (cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and American cheese), SPW got the Crunchburger (double American cheese and potato chips) and Fred wound up with an LA Burger (cheddar cheese, watercress and avocado relish). In addition, SPW and I split an order of onion rings and Fred went with the sweet potato fries. Everything was top-notch, but the real star of the show was probably the chipotle ketchup on the table. This was a delicious combination of smoky and sweet, coupled with a bit of heat from the chipotle. It was delicious and really set off both the burger and the onion rings. SPW (connoisseur of burgers!) said that this beat the burger she had at Burgers and More by Emeril. I understand that people have different tastes, but it was funny to read some reviews on Yelp! and fine people who say that it was almost as good as Five Guys. Sigh.

Before heading to Cherry Hill, SPW (writer of extraordinary talent) had gotten around to putting her spin on the Sandusky scandal. I think she did a great job with it… you can find it here. This is one case where I agree with her 100%.

The Wall

After eating our delicious burger goodness, we headed into the Philadelphia Financial District, which is what wags refer to the sports complex as. This is due to the naming rights partners of the sports venues, Lincoln Financial, Wells Fargo and Citizens Bank. We were headed there to see The Wall. I have a few things to share about the show.

For his age, Roger Waters can still rock the house. Hell, anyone of any age who can stage that show is amazing.

Upon arrival at Citizens Bank Park last night, you could see the top of what appeared to be an immense stage peeking out of the ballpark. It wasn’t until we got inside that you could grasp the scale of the stage. It spanned from foul pole to foul pole, with the wall spreading beyond the boundaries of the field and into the stands.

Ah, yes… the wall. As big of an attraction as Waters himself, this was a massive set piece. Measurements I had seen said it was some 500 feet long and 40 feet tall when completed. Not only did it serve as an integral part of the pageantry, it made for an amazing projection screen. More on that later.

The concert started with some dialog from the classic movie Spartacus. Suddenly, the band began to play In The Flesh?, setting the stage for a night of dead-on album sound. Images are projected on the wall, setting the tone and a model of a Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber crashes into the wall and explodes. It gets better and more intense from that point.

Let me just take a moment to praise the band. Made up of several Pink Floyd session guys like Snowy White, amongst others, the band is very tight. They should be, having played this tour for three summers. Other musicians of note included Robbie Wyckoff, a session vocalist who provided the David Gilmour vocals and former SNL bandleader G.E. Smith, who played guitar and ukulele. The band even included Waters’ son, Harry, who played keyboards and organ.

The sound, provided by Clair Brothers, was impeccable. The stadium was wired for surround sound, which really makes my home theater seem wimpy, and they had a nearly perfect balance. The staging and rigging were like nothing I had ever seen before. I was pleased to see many open seating areas where they did not sell tickets as the view would’ve been obstructed by a lighting tower or projection unit. Our seats in the Hall of Fame Club were excellent. They were wider than standard ballpark seats, so standing up did not produce any sucking sounds as my bulk was levered clear. The seats cost a smidge more than the lower level seats but were well worth it.

Merchandise offerings were plentiful, with the standard T-shirts, hats, trinkets, etc. The best value was an 18×24 tour poster, suitable for framing, for only $5.00. The T-shirt was $40 and features the crossed hammers on the front with the tour locations on the back. On the way out of the stadium, I also procured a second shirt via the secondary market. It’s a quality shirt, a Hanes with no tag. Guy wanted $20, I started walking and he quickly lowered his price by $10.00. I scored the second shirt and left happy. I bought both shirts in a size that’s too small, but I’m confident I will fit in them before too long.

Its easiest to describe the concert as an almost sensory overload. Between the music, which was loud and yet crystal clear, to the video messages, to the giant puppets and the underlying anti-war theme, there were messages left and right. I also gained an appreciation of how a mob mentality can work. At the climax of The Trial, as the judge was exhorting everyone to tear down the wall, the energy was palpable. As the stadium shook (yes, shook) and 45,000+ people screamed, “Tear down the wall!”, well, I really wanted to go do that. It was a visceral moment. Other highlights included the playing of Comfortably Numb, where both SPW and I had tears in our eyes.

All in all, it was a show I was glad I had the opportunity to see. It ranks right up in my top three shows, if not number one, with Pink Floyd’s 1994 show at the Vet and U2’s Joshua Tree show at JFK in 1987. I’d tell you to go see it, but this was the last US show. There’s one more North American show, at Quebec City’s Plains of Abraham on July 21. Supposedly Waters is considering running the tour for another summer throughout Europe, but that’s probably to get the money’s worth out of the staging, which was reported to cost upwards of $60 million.

I’ve heard tell that this might be the last major rock spectacle to ever be staged live. If that is the case, I’m glad I was there. To hear one of the most amazing albums ever recorded performed live as it was intended is certainly bucket list material. What do I cross off the list next?

Good afternoon!

Pico de Gallo

I spent a good portion of the morning trying to make pico de gallo again. My last attempt was not bad, maybe a little too citrus. This time I added more tomato and cilantro in an attempt to moderate the sourness of the lime juice. At the very least, it’s very nice and colorful. It should cheer up any plate, even if I usually wind up putting it in a burrito.

It brought back to me that cooking should be fun. For me, one of my biggest beefs with my job is never really seeing the finished product. When you cook, you see that and it’s much easier to take pride in getting a perfectly diced tomato or onion. Getting beautiful diamond-shaped grill marks when you grill a steak or a piece of chicken. I’ve said before that cooking is not just about taste. It’s smell and appearance and texture, heck, even the sound if you’re eating fajitas.

I also cannot stress the importance of having quality cutlery in your kitchen. You can get by with substandard cookware, but poor quality knives make cooking much more of a chore than a joy. I speak from experience… I was always the guy to buy the 54 knives for $20, figuring a knife was a knife. One day, not long after The Management and I sealed the deal, I was attempting to thinly slice dry rubbed pork tenderloin. The cheap knives were shredding it and I finally reached my wits end. I said that we needed to invest in at least a good carving knife. The Management (aka Supportive Partner Woman (Possessor of Good Ideas!)) suggested taking some of the Bed Bath and Beyond gift cards that we received as wedding gifts and going to find a carving knife. We came home with a beautiful Henckels carving set in a presentation box. What a revelation! It went through the meat like, well, a hot knife through butter. Paper thin slices? Not a problem! It was like I had died and gone to paradise.

I started thinking about upgrading other knives, checking eBay regularly, thinking that I should keep in the same family. I studied up on knife manufacturing and what to look for (full tang, balanced, polypropylene riveted handles, etc.) and I also found out that you could test the knives at Williams-Sonoma. One night around the holidays, SPW and I visited our local Williams-Sonoma and were gazing longingly at the cutlery when we noticed a decent sale on a Wüsthof starter block set. Wound up with a 10″ chef’s knife, two paring knives (serrated and non), a boning knife, a 9″ bread knife, a 5″ Santoku and a 6″ slicing knife. To say I’m happy with these would be an understatement. I even bought a knife sharpener to keep them at optimum sharpness. We’ve since added a tomato knife, a panini knife and steak knives to the block.

So, my cooking tip of the day is to spend the extra scratch and invest in good knives. Even if you don’t get a full block, a good chef’s knife will make all the difference. Whether you get Wüsthof, Henckels or even Shun, you won’t be disappointed.

Also, for the good of the order, I find it amazing that 90% of German cutlery is made in Solingen.

Greetings from the land of the slimmer!

I had an appointment this morning with the exercise physiologist and dietitian at the bariatric center. First thing, I got weighed. It was a cool 368 lbs. That’s a vast improvement over my last visit to the clinic for group where the number was 380. So, 12 pounds in about three weeks. Much better. The funny thing is that before you can have surgery, they ask that you lose 10 pounds. Guess I took care of that.

The first part of my appointment was with the exercise guy. I found Ryan to be very upbeat and encouraging. He was impressed by my walking regimen and wants me to keep it up. He also set up some appointments for me in their fitness center. It’s not big, but they only have six people at a time in there. They have shower facilities and most importantly, Ryan and/or Cory are there to show you how to exercise and lift weights safely and correctly. I start with a one hour session on Thursday and I’m really looking forward to it. Apparently, one of the risks with bariatric surgery is the  loss of muscle mass. As such, they want to build it up so you don’t lose all of what you have.

Cedar plank roasted Copper River salmon with mushroom risotto and steamed broccoli

Following my appointment with Ryan, I met Cory, the other physiologist. Then it was off to meet the dietitian, Shauna. She also seemed to be very supportive and was pleased with some of the dietary progress I’ve made. She was pleased to hear that both The Management and myself like to cook, and she was really pleased with last night’s dinner. We were at Wegman’s on Friday and I managed to pick up some Copper River salmon. I roasted it on a cedar plank with a sheen of olive oil, fresh ground pepper and sea salt on top. To go along with it, I made a mushroom risotto and steamed broccoli. The Management approved.

Today’s route.

So, I also added a new track to my walking playlist. I think my hair band loving friends will like it. Many might remember an 80’s hair band called Warrant. They were in the news in the past couple of years thanks to the death of lead singer Jani Lane. So, this weekend, XM 80s on 8 was playing a countdown from 1989 and Warrant’s little known track, Down Boys came on. It was very catchy and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. It sets a pretty good pace and I’m kind of scared to check my feet, because I might have overdone it a little. I did manage to walk about half of the Red Rose Commons perimeter. This gets me a little closer to my goal.

The one constant today is that everyone assures me I’m on the right track. It’s not easy, but when I saw 36_ instead of 37_, well, that’s a nice motivator. I’d love to have a 35_ next time. We shall see.