Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Same old …

For some reason or other, my camera does not like focusing on my lunches! Usually it's close enough, but today's is blurry.

I have much the same as yesterday, in different proportions. The cottage cheese and tomato fractions have totally disappeared, the okonomiyaki fraction has doubled.

lentil salad = 110 Cal
okonomiyaki = 200 Cal
carrot & parsnip = 60 Cal
chicken = 82 Cal

Total = 452 Cal

And another longish walk into town for exercise. Bought new hair straighteners.

Don't know why I stopped wearing these shoes 16 years or so ago. They're comfortable and I like them.

Maybe they needed polishing, then I forgot why I wasn't wearing them and assumed it was something more serious? They're back in the "wear often" section of the wardrobe now anyway.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sort of okonomiyaki

Last night I did a bit of experimenting. I've been wanting to try making okonomiyaki, but have never had the correct ingredients. I still didn't have the proper ones, but I was pretty close so I thought I'd give it a shot. I used Maki's recipe, but substituted taro and spinach for nagaimo and cabbage, working on the principle that I needed slime and substance and green. In the original, cabbage provides both green and substance; in mine, taro provides slime and substance. I also used some home-cured bacon instead of pork - it's not very salty bacon, so I thought it'd be OK.

It turned out quite yummy. I've never had proper okonomiyaki so I don't know how much it tasted like the authentic version, but it is still nice. After having eaten the first one piping hot, I made the second and subsequent pancakes into a stack with sauce, bonito flakes and seaweed between the layers. A small wedge of that stack forms part of today's lunch. I also have a tomato, some cottage cheese, a carrot & parsnip cup, some smoked chicken thigh (I forgot about it smoking while I was doing my housework on Saturday, so it's a bit dry but very tasty), and lentil salad.

lentil salad = 110 Cal
okonomiyaki = 100 Cal
tomato = 3 Cal
carrot & parsnip = 60 Cal
cottage cheese = 36 Cal
chicken = 82 Cal

Total = 391 Cal

A longish walk into town to the library today too.

But not in these shoes. They're fine for walking around work, but my heels slip out of them a bit when I walk fast.

They were about $12.50 as I remember, last year from No 1 Shoe Warehouse. Made by some poor slave in Vietnam, and are actually partially leather. I feel a bit guilty, but I guess that's how economies start to grow.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Last night's dinner

Today I have plain old leftovers. I stopped by the fish processing plant on my way home from work last night and bought some smoked mackerel, some salmon which I'll smoke tomorrow, and a fillet of ling for my dinner. I fried some onion and zucchini in a little butter, then added some tomatoes that needed eating before they shrivelled up. Once the tomatoes had given up their juice and it had reduced a bit I buried the fish under the veges, added a good squeeze of lemon juice and some salt & pepper, and left it to simmer for about five minutes. I ate it over bulghur wheat, and there was enough left over for today's lunch. The bulghur and fish went into the bottom, leaky, part of my bento bowl, while the veges and juice went into the sealed middle section. I think it would have been OK at room temp, but it's a dreary day so I heated it up in the microwave.

100 g bulghur = 87 Cal
140 g ling = 122 Cal
1 tsp butter = 36 Cal
6 cherry tomatoes = 18 Cal
1/2 zucchini = 8 Cal
1/4 onion = 10 Cal

Total = 281 Cal.

Pathetic. I bought some cottage cheese at the supermarket today, might have some later on. Come to think of it, I also bought some short dated brie - I could almost afford to nibble a bit of that!

I went for a walk through the gardens yesterday afternoon, on my way to the pharmacy by the farther supermarket to get some dressings for my burnt leg. Many of the roses are having a second blooming, although not the really highly scented ones unfortunately.

Today's shoes are about 20 years old. I've worn them a bit, but not for a very long time. I do love them though, they're totally flat, black suede, have facetted coloured glass "jewels" attached, and gold leather beading around the edges.

The soles are a little too thick for them to be classed as "ballet flats" so I won't be winning any trendiness prizes while wearing them. I don't like ballet flats.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A new box

I bought this box at Plastic Box a couple of weeks ago. It's a kids' lunchbox with compartments for sandwiches and cake etc - similar to the sort we had when I was young but each compartment is sealed by grooves in the lid. I thought it might be good for carrying bento components that need mixing just before eating. I have bulghur and seaweed in the big compartment; avocado and salmon in one small compartment; and a bit of vege lasagne in the other. I mixed the salmon and avocado in with the bulghur, and ate the lasagne separately.

A fairly calorific lunch to day, I'm guessing:

100 g bulghur = 87 Cal
50 g avocado = 80 Cal
50 g salmon = 92 Cal
5 g seaweed = 25 Cal
lasagne = 200 Cal

Total = 484 Cal

Less than I was expecting!

Today's shoes are super comfortable. I bought them in a sale a couple of years ago. They're leather with very supple soles and zips up the back of the heels; you feel as though you're wearing socks.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back to the real world

Well, I'm back from my very long weekend away. I had a wonderful time, drank lots of beer, ate bad stuff like a hot dog and a pie and some of my sausages, and still managed to lose 300 grams. I also got a nasty exhaust pipe burn on my leg, and discovered that I can no longer party until sunrise - I crashed at 4am. All well worth it though; I caught up with a lot of old friends and talked myself hoarse.

I had to make a lunch of scraps for today - I have lentil salad (lasts for ages in the fridge); roast kumara, carrot, and parsnip; broccoli; and some zucchini lasagne from the freezer.

lentil salad = 163 Cal
lasagne = 200 Cal
broccoli = 10 Cal
roast veges = 40 Cal

Total = 413 Cal

I'm going to have a dinner party on the 18th April, as my friend Jo has almost finished her PhD. She did her seminar last week and has her oral exam tomorrow. She won't officially be Dr Jo until graduation in May, but now is a good time to celebrate - and besides that, it's time I did some serious cooking. I'm sort of thinking of having an Asian theme, with a course from each of four countries. Maybe entrées (appetisers) from Japan, soups from Malasia, mains from India, and desserts from Thailand. I'll be blogging it as well as I can - but I might get a bit busy on the actual day to remember to take photos.

Today's shoes were meant to be a black and cream pair I bought in Scotland in 2005 and have never worn, but the buckle broke when I put them on so it looks as though I won't be wearing them for a while.

These ones are some I bought for my aunt's funeral in 2003 - I had gone to her sickbed well prepared with funeral clothes, but the weather did an about turn and everything I had was far too hot so I had to go and buy more. I've worn them a couple of times since then though. They have an ankle strap which is hidden by the trousers, which are also hiding the burn on my leg - it's a bit unattractive.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

High protein

I usually try to make my lunches higher in protein and fibre and lower in fat and carbs, but today I think I've outdone myself. Fibre in the lentils and carrot & parsnip cups, protein in the lentils, egg, and Thai beef from the freezer. A few carbs in the carrot & parsnip, but not much. These cups are mashed carrot and parsnip mixed with egg, then nuked until set in silicon cupcake cups - so they have some protein too, from the egg.

lentil salad = 163 Cal
Thai beef = 128 Cal
egg = 88 Cal
carrot and parsnip cup = 60 Cal

Total = 439 Cal.

Today's shoes are a recent purchase, and are very comfortable despite having heels - only 2 1/2 inches though.

They are a style with which my grandmother (born in 1890) would be familiar - in fact I remember her wearing shoes like this most of the time when I was small. They were also fashionable in the early 70s when I was in my teens ; I had a brown pair in leather and suede. And they are fashionable again now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lentil salad

More beans and asparagus today, but I also have some chicken that I poached in mirin, soy, etc and froze some time ago, and some lentil salad I made last night. I can't remember the website I got the lentil salad idea from originally, but I use puy lentils, add plenty of fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, and marjoram in this one), then put in whatever I have that might be nice and sprinkle it all with balsamic vinegar. This has green olives stuffed with pimento, sun dried tomatoes, and pickled jalapeños. Often I'll add some feta, but that makes it a bit more fattening so I omitted it this time. I try always to put marjoram in - it goes really well with the lentils.

80 g chicken = 156 Cal
100 g lentil salad = 163 Cal
beans = 40 Cal
asparagus = 15 Cal

Total = 374 Cal

Today's shoes are quite old, and never worn until today.

They have skinny heels, long toes, and no backs so are quite difficult to walk in without tripping up. I definitely needed the walking shoes I brought to work for my lunchtime exercise. They do go well with today's dress though - a very 60s black and white print thing I made at the weekend. Well, maybe the style is not so 60s, but the fabric pattern certainly is.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St Patrick's Day

More shuumai meatloaf, another kabocha cup (the last of this batch), more beans, asparagus, bulghur and Korean seaweed.

shuumai meatloaf = 140 Cal?
squash cup = 60 Cal
beans = 30 Cal
asparagus = 15 Cal
bulghur & seaweed = 100 Cal

Total = 345 Cal.

I must start getting thinner again soon, surely.

Green fingernail polish, a very fine pale green sweater, a black dress with red roses and green leaves on it, and these shoes:

I had never worn them before, and they are so comfortable. I bought them in a sale a couple of years ago; they were super cheap - I'm assuming because one of them is slightly faded. I must remember to leave the other one out in the sun for a few days to even them up a bit.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ankle straps

Today's shoes have 3 inch skinny heels, but are surprisingly comfortable - well, walkable-in would perhaps be more apt. I've worn them a couple of times before, the last time was to the opera here in Dunedin last year - Il Trovatore.

Cape gooseberries

I didn't lose any weight last week. Sniff. I was so good too. I think I've maybe "plateaued" for a bit. Grit teeth and continue.

Today's lunch has beans again, underneath the asparagus; another kabocha cup; a tomato; some cape goosberries from the garden; and some slices of mini-meatloaf made from Maki's pork and shrimp mix that goes inside her shuumai dumplings.

60 g shuumai meatloaf = 140 Cal?
kabocha cup = 60 Cal
beans = 40 Cal
asparagus = 25 Cal
cape gooseberries = 16 Cal
tomato = 4 Cal

Total = 281 Cal

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Smoked sausages II

The sausages sat in the fridge overnight, their skins drying out a little (this is supposed to make the smoke stick better); this morning they went into the smoker.

Let me introduce my smoker to you. Here it is:

Yep, it's a rubbish tin - not a pre-used one I should add, but bought especially to turn into a smoker. It sits on top of this gas burner:

I usually use it in my garage, as the slightest puff of wind is enough to blow the flame out.

I modified the top of the tin by a) drilling a hole and inserting a thermometer:

and b) drilling many more holes and attaching an old grill rack to the underside, and then attaching several hooks to the rack:

The sawdust goes into the bottom of the tin:

You don't actually need much, I use manuka sawdust, and this wee bag lasts for ages:

I first put the tin on the gas to heat up for half an hour or so - there is no thermostat, so you have to get the flame at the right level by trial and error before you add the article(s) to be smoked. It takes a fair while for the temperature inside the tin to equilibrate, so this is a bit of a tedious process. Once the temperature inside the tin is constant and the heat I want it (in this case ~80˚C) I pour in a cup or so of sawdust and hang the sausages (or the chicken breast or whatever) on a lid hook - this can be a bit fiddly, because the lid is hot - and put the lid on the tin.

Then I go away and forget about it for a while.

You'd think, or at least I did, that there would be billows of smoke coming from the smoker, but actually very little escapes the tin so it's quite OK to use it in the garage. The first time I did I moved the car out, but I don't bother any more.

When I think they're done I remove the sausages from the smoker. This took about two hours today. Here they are looking delicious:

I'm taking a couple of them to work to give to Stephen (who brought me smoked eel the other day), and I had to taste one didn't I?

They're perfectly edible straight out of the smoker - see how juicy it is? The little yellow bits are melted cheese. They are, according to my calculations, at least 300 Cal each. Definitely to be eaten in moderation! Or by other people, as most of these will be.

The rest of the sausages will go into the freezer when they've cooled down, ready for me to take away next weekend.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Smoked sausages I

Next weekend I'm going to another motorcycle race meeting, this time in the North Island, at Manfield, near Palmerston North. I'm flying up (on air miles) and will be staying with friends. I want to take a bit of food with me, as there will be other visitors as well, and every bit helps. I'll take the last quarter of my Christmas cake, some Girl Guide biscuits (cookies), and I decided to make some smoked cheesy sausages for our breakfasts.
Last year I bought Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's Charcuterie from Amazon, and had a great time trying out various meaty fatty deliciousnesses. This may have something to do with why I'm needing to lose a few kgs.
Using the principles learnt from that book I invented this quite plain, but very yummy sausage, and this is the second time I've made it. I start off with some pork shoulder and some pork fat (that I've rescued from other times when I've wanted less fat in my pork rather than more, and stored in the freezer), about a kg I suppose, all up. I roughly cube it, mix it with 1 tsp of ground cumin, 1.5 tbsp of salt and 1 tsp of pink salt. The pink salt is something I've not been able to source here, but I made my own with sodium nitrite from work (from a new unopened bottle to ensure no cross contamination with, say, sodium cyanide) and table salt, ground together with a mortar and pestle. I leave the meat in the fridge overnight.
In the morning I get a little lump of frozen salted pig intestine out of the freezer, put it in a cup of cold water and forget about it for a bit. The meat goes through the mincer on my Kenwood:

Then I add a good big handful of grated cheese and a half a cup of cold water:

And mix it at medium speed for a couple of minutes, until it's gone all sticky and sausagemeat-like. While that's happening I disassemble the mincer and retrieve the various bits of munched up meat and cheese from its interior. These get quickly sautéed and tasted for seasoning - just in case I didn't put enough salt in or something, in which case I can add a bit more while it's mixing. I transfer the meat to another (smaller) bowl to keep in the fridge while I muck around with the skins.

I retrieve the length of pig intestine (aka sausage casing) I've been defrosting/soaking in cold water since I started, and run cold tap water through it. It's quite fun watching it slither around as it fills with water - I do it in the bowl from the Kenwood as it's the biggest bowl I have, and if the casing escapes it'll quite happily slither off down the plughole.

The next step is to slide the casings over the sausage stuffing attachment I've put onto the mincer when I reassembled it. It looks rather indecent doesn't it? Everything being very wet helps this process along enormously.

Now it's time to start stuffing. The sausagemeat goes down the hopper, and when it just starts to appear from the nozzle I turn the mincer off so I can tie a knot in the end of the casing. If you tie the knot before you start you end up with a big bubble of air in the first sausage, which is undesirable.

This is what it looks like while it's getting stuffed:

And here is what it looks like afterwards, when I've tied the knot in the other end:

I twist it into links and twist the links into the sort of chain you see at the butcher's. I can't explain how to do this - I have to figure it out afresh each time I do it.

But what I end up with is a nice tidy bunch of sausages that will sit in the fridge overnight, and hang neatly in the smoker tomorrow:

Quite a lot of meat gets left in the mincer and stuffing nozzle; you can follow the meat with some bread or an onion to push the last bits through into the casings if you want, or you can rescue it while taking the mincer to bits and cook it up for breakfast …

… to have as a sandwich in a bit of the bread that you baked earlier and was cooling down while you were making the sausages …

… the baguette at the back that is. You wouldn't want to put it in the plait at the front - it's filled with apple, sultanas and cinnamon.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Black suede

More different shoes today. These ones I have actually worn a few times since I bought them maybe 10 years ago; they're black suede with elastic sides and 2 1/2 inch heels. The heels are very narrow from side to side so they're a bit dangerous getting out of my front door and across my wooden deck to the stairs; the heels fit between the decking planks.

I bought these tights from an English website; it's actually reasonably economical to do so at present, and it means I can get winter things in our summer.

Lots of green

More beans from the garden (getting towards the end of them unfortunately), asparagus from the freezer, a kabocha cup, tomatoes, and dumplings from the freezer. Nice and healthy.

dumplings = 160 Cal
squash = 60 Cal
tomatoes = 8 Cal
beans = 40 Cal
asparagus = 25 Cal

Total = 293 Cal. Very healthy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Green wedges

I have decided I need to wear my shoes. I'm a bit of an Imelda, but they tend to go into the wardrobe where only I can admire them, and I wear the same old flat shoes to work so I can go walking. No More. The comfy shoes can come in a bag, and I'll get some wear out of the others. I will then be forced to wear some of my clothes as well, rather than putting on jeans (winter) or floppy dress (summer) every morning.

This is a pair of shoes I bought about five years ago, and have worn once until today. The ankle straps are removable.

They are reasonably high (3") but will be easy to walk in once they are broken in, as they have quite solid heels. The tights were a surprise; I put my hand into the tights drawer intending to grab some black opaques, and these were what came out. I don't even remember them - they have to be about 20 years old! But they are fashionable again from what I can tell.

Meatloaf, acorns, toadstools, and shoes

Today I have some mini-meatloaf from the freezer, some lasagne/moussaka whatever, tomatoes, squash mash, and capsicum/onion. Pretty much scraping the bottom of the fridge really.

lasagne stuff = 200 Cal
70 g meatloaf = 168 Cal
capsicum/onion = 60 Cal
squash = 60 Cal
tomatoes = 9 Cal

Total = 497 Cal

That's quite a lot, but it needed to be eaten and I dare say I'll survive.

The weather continues to be horrid; I've been having hot water bottles and the heater on in my bedroom at night. We'll probably be sweltering next week though - the weather here is so unpredictable.

Here are some nice autumnal shots from my garden:

My oak tree is having acorns …

… and the toadstools are popping up all over.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Smoked eel!

Well my visit to the Dental School yesterday was not quite as traumatic as I had feared, although I did feel somewhat wobbly after having my jaw drilled and a self-tapping screw thing inserted. They used the cutest little torque wrench to screw it in, too. They ended up not having to lift a flap of gum (just drilled through it instead), so I don't have any sutures to make eating uncomfortable.

My friend Stephen from work gave me a gift yesterday - he'd caught and smoked a large eel and brought me the tail end of it. He has also brought me rabbit and hare in the past; he hunts and fishes quite a lot.

I turned some of the eel into nigiri sushi, and made some tamagoyaki for more. Well, it would have been tamagoyaki, except I forgot I still had the gas on when I was leaving it to set in the pan, so one side of it was a little browned. It still tastes good though. And there are more beans from the garden.

rice (1/3 cup raw) = 250 Cal
~ 30 g eel = 100 Cal (it's quite fatty)
1/2 egg plus extras = 50 Cal
beans = 40 Cal

Total = 440 Cal

It always surprises me how many calories there are in what looks like a tiny serving of rice.

Autumn seems to have decided to give us a miss, we have jumped straight into the middle of winter. I'm putting my walk off until I have to go to have my jaw checked later on this afternoon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Salmon & avocado

I wrote about this dish the other night in the post about making the lasagne-ish thing, it was inspired by Loretta's comment on this post at Just Bento.

Here I have, in the bottom bowl of this box, some bulghur wheat mixed with Korean seasoned seaweed (on the packet of which I can read almost nothing, so no details I'm afraid) and some salmon tartare (salmon dry-marinated in salt, sugar, and lemon zest). In the middle bowl of the box there is half an avocado wrapped in clingfilm.

At lunchtime I peeled and chopped the avocado and mixed all the ingredients together with a sprinkle of soy sauce. I ate it at our weekly seminar (very interesting too, a guy from ESR on forensic science) amidst the envious glances of my colleagues.

100 g bulghur = 87 Cal
50 g avocado = 80 Cal
50 g salmon = 92 Cal
5 g seaweed = 25 Cal

Total = 284 Cal

I may possibly have a little snack this afternoon when I go for my walk. Which will be on the way to the Dental School to have a tooth implanted - not sure I'll be wanting to put a lot of food into my mouth tonight.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The lasagne/moussaka stuff

I didn't lose any weight this week, but I was expecting that so it's OK.

Today for my lunch I have beans again, carrot and parsnip again, a buttercup squash thing, and some of the sort-of-lasagne I made yesterday. The lasagne stuff is better hot, but it's not too bad cold - there is not much fat in it, and no cheese sauce to go gluggy.

squash thing = 60 Cal
carrot & parsnip = ~50 Cal
lasagne-ish stuff = 200 Cal
beans = 20 Cal

Total = 330 Cal